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Feds continue crackdown on opioid meds, TMB provides guidance

The federal government is continuing to investigate and prosecute allegations of the abuse of opioid medications. These prosecutions extend beyond patients who are accused of misusing the medication – they also involve a focus on medical professionals that may prescribe these medications. Cases abound of federal prosecutors charging medical professionals who allegedly illegally prescribe opioid pills to patients. To make matters even more difficult, the rules that govern prescription of these medications are changing. Texas lawmakers recently passed a number of rules that directly impact how medical professionals use these medications.

In an effort to provide some guidance, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) recently released a publication to help physicians navigate the new rules.

What triggered the TMB’s publication?

As noted above, Texas officials passed three laws that change requirements for doctors prescribing opioid medications. These rules led to changes in continuing medical education (CME) requirements regarding the use of opioids. Although not yet adopted, the TMB has provided the following guidance:

  • Know who must take the CMEs. The new laws require physicians involved in direct patient care, those who prescribe, order or administer controlled substances or those with a Drug Enforcement Agency number for prescribing opioids or controlled substances to complete 2 CME hours every two years.
  • Know what types of CME courses qualify. The topics must include approved prescription and monitoring, safe and effect pain management using opioids and other controlled substances, best practices, alternative treatment options and use of other approaches including physical therapy.

The TMB also notes completion of these two CMEs also counts towards the applicant’s ethics requirement and the 10 annual CME hours for pain management clinics. It is important to stay abreast of these changes as a failure to meet CME requirements can result in licensing issues.