New NHS Fife initiative aims to reduce unnecessary prescribing of pain medicines

The mobile version of the 'Pain Talking' website. Image: NHS Fife

A new campaign by NHS Fife hopes to reduce the unnecessary prescription of high risk medicine to treat chronic pain.

'Pain Talking' promotes other treatments, letting patients control how they manage their condition.

Chronic or persistent pain is known to affect at least 1 in 5 adults in Scotland, and high-risk pain medicines (HRPM) are regularly used in their treatment.

These medicines include opioids like codeine and morphine, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, and benzodiazepines like diazepam.

Not only do these medicines often come with side effects like drowsiness, constipation and nausea, longer-term use of some of them can also lead to physical dependence and create a greater risk of overdose.

The prescribing of HRPM in Fife has been consistently above the Scottish average in recent years, and some of these medications are known to find their way into the hands of others and sold on for illicit use.

Clinical Pharmacist and Programme Director for the Pain Talking strategy, Deborah Steven, said of the initiative: “High-risk medicines have been used widely in the treatment of chronic pain over many years.

"Some patients find these medicines to be very effective and accept the possible side-effects due to the therapeutic benefits these offer.

"That’s okay with ongoing monitoring and review.

“There are very many patients though who have remained on these medicines for long periods, in some cases for years, without enough consideration being given to whether these still remain the most effective treatment for the individual person.

"It is then about us working in partnership with patients, making a thorough assessment and agreeing a way forward which considers the whole range of possible treatments available to them.

“Ultimately, our aim is to improve safety to individuals, and, by reducing unnecessary use of these medicines, avoiding them ending up on the street where we know they can cause drug-related harms and even deaths.”

More information can be found at the 'Pain Talking' website.

More from Local News