Opioid Expert Working Group meets at MHRA

At the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), an Expert Working Group (EWG) of the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) met to begin reviewing the benefits and risks of opioid medicines, which includes dependence and addiction.

A comprehensive independent scientific review of all the available evidence on the use of opioid medicines in the UK will take place, taking in the best practice internationally, to ensure information for patients and healthcare professionals helps reduce over-prescription and misuse of opioids. The EWG is comprised of experts from a wide range of scientific disciplines, for example pain management, general practice, pharmacy, toxicology and pharmacology, geriatric medicine and paediatric medicine.

The MHRA have explained that the review aims to work promptly in line with the regulatory process and will:

  • “consider the current data on the utilisation of opioid-containing medicines in the UK, both prescribed and over the counter;
  • examine whether the risk minimisation measures implemented for over the counter and prescription opioids have been effective or whether further measures are required;
  • consider the benefit/risk of opioid-containing medicines in particular for non-cancer indications, taking into account alternatives and,
  • make recommendations for regulatory action to better support appropriate use of prescription opioids, such as relevant changes to the Summary of Product Characteristics and Patient Information Leaflet, product labelling and packaging, and any other risk minimisation measures.”

The MHRA plan to engage with the appropriate stakeholders from across the health sector, including charities and addiction support groups, to gain advice on how communications on the case of opioids can be improved. Awareness will be raised among healthcare professionals and the public on how the risks of tolerance and addiction can be managed.

To read more about the opioid EWG meeting at the MHRA, please click here.