MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Nura announced today that it will begin providing free Narcan® kits and training directly to select patients who take opiate analgesics. Narcan, generically known as naloxone, is a medication that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose.
One of the Midwest region's pioneers in chronic pain management, Nura pain clinic has long advocated for multidisciplinary alternatives to opioids for pain management.
"We do everything we can to reduce and eliminate the need for opioids in our chronic pain patients," stated Peter Schultz, MD, MPH, Nura. Schultz is a partner in the practice with his brother and clinic founder, David. "Nonetheless, some patients are referred to us on high dose opioids and it may take us weeks or even months to transition them away from opioids and into more effective and safer alternatives. During this transition period, we believe that access to, and education about, naloxone will help keep these patients safe as we taper opioids over time."
Underscoring Nura's new initiative is an August CDC announcement calling for increased access to naloxone, and reporting that only one naloxone prescription was dispensed for every 70 high-dose opioid prescriptions nationwide. In 2018, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 331 deaths due to opioid overdose.
While Minnesotans can now obtain naloxone without a prescription there are still social stigmas and financial barriers to its access and use.
"The Minnesota Department of Health has been a leader in expanding access by working with participating pharmacies to provide naloxone without a prescription," explained Schultz. "But many of our patients are battling long term chronic pain with limited mobility and limited income. Unless it's covered by their insurance, there is still a cost to the patient. And, many at risk, high-dose opioid patients may not be able to afford coverage or the cost of the drug."
Davis Shryer, MA, LADC, LPCC and Nura counselor conducts bi-weekly group sessions with high-dose opioid patients to address the emotional and social impact of coping with chronic pain.
"No one ever thinks they're going to overdose," said Shryer. "Some patients are offended at even the suggestion they keep naloxone on hand, or embarrassed at the idea of filling a prescription.
"While an overdose is unlikely, they do happen," added Shryer. "We want the patient and their families to be prepared and trained on how to deal with this in the event it does occur. We want to remove any barriers. It's simply the right thing to do."
Nura began testing its program in August and is now looking at rolling it out to all its opioid using patients.
Nura (formally MAPS – Medical Advanced Pain Specialists) was founded by David Schultz, MD, a pioneer in interventional pain management. In his work as a practicing anesthesiologist in the 1990's, Dr. Schultz realized the need to treat chronic pain patients with a more comprehensive approach and went on to found the region's first pain management clinic. Today, Nura's multidisciplinary approach includes medication management, physical therapy and behavioral health. Nura also provides minimally invasive interventional procedures such as nerve blocks, spinal injections and nerve ablation, as well as a full range of implantable pain control options. Nura's mission is to give these chronic pain sufferers their lives back.