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American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons joins project to reduce opioid abuse

October 02, 2017

By David Burger

Parsippany, N.J. — The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons joined a research project in September with Pacira Pharmaceuticals and Aetna in a national program aimed at reducing the amount of opioids prescribed to patients undergoing third molar extractions.

The goal is to reduce the number of opioid tablets prescribed by at least 50 percent through the use of Pacira’s EXPAREL to provide nonopioid postsurgical pain control, said Dave Stack, chairman and CEO of Pacira, in an ADA News interview.

Aetna will reimburse oral surgeons enrolled in the program for their use of EXPAREL in impacted third molar extractions cases performed once the surgeons have completed training on use of the product.

“In light of our nation’s opioid epidemic, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons is committed to the safe and responsible prescribing of opioids for acute and postsurgical pain control,” said Dr. Douglas W. Fain, the association’s president, in a news release. “We are pleased to see additional support for the use of non-opioid options like EXPAREL to provide oral surgery patients with long-lasting postsurgical pain control while reducing their need for high volumes of opioids.”

Mr. Stack said several oral surgeons who are part of the association were early adopters of EXPAREL and saw the impact it had on their prescribing practices. “When they shared their experiences and patient feedback with their peers across the organization, it became clear there was a real opportunity to work together to address an unmet need for patients,” Mr. Stack said.

Mr. Stack continued: “Pacira and the association both recognize the importance of reducing patient exposure to opioids after surgery, especially in light of the national epidemic we are facing. This is particularly significant for individuals undergoing third molar extraction surgery, as many of these patients are young adults who have never been exposed to opioids and may be more susceptible to misuse or abuse.”

Aetna is identifying and enrolling between 200-500 oral surgeons within their network in the demonstration project.

Following a successful demonstration of opioid prescription reduction among those individuals, Mr. Stack said the companies involved have hopes to expand the use of EXPAREL to other oral surgeons. Selected surgeons will be contacted by Aetna and Pacira.

EXPAREL, indicated for single-dose infiltration into the surgical site to produce postsurgical analgesia, was launched in the U.S. in 2012.

For more information about what the ADA is doing to battle the epidemic, visit Additional resources can be found on the ADA Center for Professional Success and in the ADA Catalog.