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Turning the Prescription Opioid Epidemic Around

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Video interview with COPE Executive Director Mark Sullivan, MD, PhD.

About COPE: The University of Washington’s COPE for Chronic Pain CME Program offers evidence-based clinical knowledge and training on how best to treat patients experiencing chronic pain. COPE CME helps clinicians assess patients and monitor their progress, mitigate risk, and focus on restoring function and quality of life. It provides guidance on when and how to start, stop, or modify opioid therapies. COPE’s online course includes case-based video vignettes that model interactions between providers and patients, helping to improve communications that promote trust. Live and web-based CME is available.


Only 25% of physicians feel very confident in managing patients on opioids. 

When many of today's physicians were in medical school, they learned that opioids were safe, and no dose seemed too high. Now, evidence-based practice paints a far more nuanced picture. More than 200 million prescriptions a year have contributed to widespread problems:

  • 33% of young adults say that prescription opioids are "easy to get," with many taking their friends' or parents' pills.
  • Nearly 20% of U.S. veterans with PTSD are receiving higher-dose or multiple opioids, or early refills.
  • Increased prescribing to women of childbearing age has contributed to a 4-fold increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome

COPE offers free CME on safe opioid prescribing:

  • COPE-REMS: an online, self-paced tutorial that awards up to 4 CME credits
  • UW TelePain: Providers can call in to UW Medicine and present their most difficult chronic pain cases to a multidisciplinary panel of pain medicine experts for discussion and advice. Tune in to live, lunchtime, 1-hour sessions most Wednesdays at 12 PM to earn up to 1.5 CME credits per session.

Other resources from COPE include:

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