Mandurah resident: Industry regulation of powerful painkillers needed

Mandurah resident: Industry regulation of powerful painkillers needed

MANDURAH resident Steven Harden believes doctors need to improve their treatment of patients who have been prescribed powerful painkillers.

Mr Harden is one of the 126,876 people in WA who were prescribed a Schedule 8 medication for pain last year.

He was prescribed the powerful opioid Fentanyl a year ago, after injuries from a construction accident left him crippled.

Fentanyl is more potent than heroin and believed to be a medication of last resort.

When Mr Harden tried to fill his last script, the chemist told him he had been on the drug for the maximum allowed time.

His doctor told Mr Harden he would have to attend a pain clinic at Fiona Stanley Hospital before he could prescribe him the drug again.

Mr Harden said the hospital told him it would be a six-month wait before he could see a pain specialist.

“There’s nothing else I can do,” Mr Harden said.

“I’m cut off completely and it’s not good duty of care to cut someone off like that.

“There will be people out there who will go to a specialist and the specialist won’t tell them they can only be on this stuff for a year.”

All referrals are triaged to ensure treatment can be given within the clinically recommended timeframe, a Fiona Stanley Hospital pain management clinic spokesman said.

Category one referrals to the pain management clinic, for patients with severe symptoms, can be seen within one week.

“Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids on the market with a high risk of dependency,” AMA (WA) president Dr Michael Gannon said.

“It is frustrating for those on long waiting lists for pain management clinics and more needs to be done to ensure that this process is streamlined and that access for public patients to services is improved.

“Expert care is required to reduce the risk of accidental overdoses, drug interactions, drug dependence, severe constipation and other potentially dangerous side-effects.”

Regular assessments by health care providers should be performed when prescribing powerful opioids, Dr Gannon said.

“Therefore it is completely reasonable to expect patients prescribed these medications to attend a pain management clinic before receiving repeat prescriptions,” he said.

“Pain management clinics assess how the patient is faring during the rehabilitation phase and how well current treatment plans are working.”

There are five medical specialists working in sessions at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Pain management clinics are also located at Royal Perth and Sir Charles Gairdner hospitals.

The administration of Schedule 8 medications, typically used in the treatment of chronic pain conditions, must be recorded in the Register of Drugs of Addiction.

Earlier this year, 20-year-old Michael Clayton from Queensland died after being given a Fentanyl patch following a gym session.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the effects of Fentanyl include euphoria, drowsiness, respiratory depression and arrest, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, unconsciousness, coma, tolerance, and addiction.

Street names for the drug include Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, as well as Tango and Cash.

They recommend it is only used to treat patients with severe pain.

People have died from using the Fentanyl patches