The Facts About Federal Opioid Training Requirements

Recently we have heard from members who were contacted by training-development companies implying that the federal government is now mandating that prescribers (including veterinarians) be trained on proper prescribing and use of extended-release opioids.

Prescribers, including veterinarians, are not required by the federal government to take training on prescribing and use of extended-release opioids, yet the training is encouraged for prescribers. It’s possible that individual states could require training, so state rules should be checked. (For example, some physicians are required by their states to take training to satisfy certain continuing education requirements.)

So what is the genesis of the training being offered? It is part of what’s called a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (“REMS”) the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put into place for extended-release opioids. A “REMS” is a way the FDA can help ensure a drug’s benefits outweigh the risks. In the case of extended-release opioids, the REMS was developed as a vehicle to decrease abuse and misuse of these opioids by people. For other drugs, the FDA has put into place various “REMS” requirements that limit drug access to only certain prescribers, that require specific communications about a drug of concern, or that limit a certain drug’s use to specific disease conditions.

When FDA started considering a REMS for extended-release opioids, we were originally concerned that access to these drugs could become restricted, so the AVMA advocated for continued veterinarian access to extended-release opioids and participated in meetings with FDA and stakeholders. We underscored how valuable these drugs are, particularly for painful conditions in animals.

We recognize veterinarians already gain continuing education on opioids and other therapeutics through professional organizations and scientific conferences, which is a valuable way for veterinarians to stay current on best practices, in addition to the option to take REMS-compliant training for prescribers.

We will keep members up to date if there are any changes in the REMS on extended-release opioids, but at this time, there is no federal mandate for veterinarians to receive training on the prescribing and use of opioid drugs.

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