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Taking A Page From Pharma's Playbook To Fight The Opioid Crisis

By Kaiser Health News  
   November 14, 2017

Lifted from the term 'pharmaceutical detailing' used by industry salespeople, 'academic detailing' is one-on-one personalized medical education.

This article first appeared November 14, 2017 on Kaiser Health News.

By Pauline Bartolone

Dr. Mary Meengs shares tips about treating opioid addiction at a small family practice in Fortuna, Calif. (Pauline Bartolone/California Healthline)

Dr. Mary Meengs remembers the days, a couple of decades ago, when pharmaceutical salespeople would drop into her family practice in Chicago, eager to catch a moment between patients so they could pitch her a new drug.

Now living in Humboldt County, Calif., Meengs is taking a page from the pharmaceutical industry’s playbook with an opposite goal in mind: to reduce the use of prescription painkillers.

Meengs, medical director at the Humboldt Independent Practice Association, is one of 10 California doctors and pharmacists funded by Obama-era federal grants to persuade medical colleagues in Northern California to help curb opioid addiction by altering their prescribing habits.

She committed this past summer to a two-year project consisting of occasional visits to medical providers in California’s most rural areas, where opioid deaths and prescribing rates are high.

“I view it as peer education,” Meengs said. “They don't have to attend a lecture half an hour away. I'm doing it at [their] convenience.”

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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