Before you read this article, take a moment and see if you remember the 7 or 8 black box warnings associated with long acting opioid pain medications.
I believe it is our duty as pharmacists to educate patients about their medications. Furthermore, according to the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (OBRA ’90), among other items, pharmacists must counsel patients on the proper use, warnings, and common side effects of their medications.
Yes, outpatient pharmacies are busy and regularly we are pressured into meeting pharmacy metrics, which may limit time at the pharmacy counter. We constantly weigh the importance of discussing medication with patients at the counseling counter against completing our ever increasing workload before our shift is complete.
To fit it all in, we need to have a clear understanding of the salient counseling points for the top 300 medications ready to go at a moment’s notice. When called to the counseling counter, following a brief introduction, we quickly review the patient’s prescriptions and any notes we have made, and then launch into our session.
Of course, we all have our own way and order of addressing the prescription counseling points as well as our personal way of engaging with our patients. Among other items, of course, we will never let a patient leave the counter without at least a brief discussion of the important black box warnings associated with each specific prescription dispensed.
These are the most important warnings as designated by the FDA. When a medication is listed as having a black box warning it means that an adverse reaction or inappropriate use may lead to serious injury or death. Discussing with a patient the cautions about these warnings may save theirs or a family member’s life.
Long-acting opioid medications, such as oxymorphone er, oxycodone er, and morphine er, have between 7 or 8 black box warnings associated with them. Before you review the list below, take a moment and see if you can list them.
Keep these warnings in mind the next time you approach the counter to talk with a patient about their long acting opioid pain medication.