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News Release

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New Patient Safety Alliance Launches Tools to Fight Pain Medication Misuse and Abuse
C.A.R.E.S. AllianceSM will partner with leading organizations to provide "safe-use" resources for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals


The C.A.R.E.S. Alliance, a new patient safety organization, today launched a range of online tools designed to help solve the growing problem of misuse and abuse of opioids by identifying the risks associated with these powerful pain medications. The free resources offered through the C.A.R.E.S. (Collaborating & Acting Responsibly to Ensure Safety) Alliance promote safety in prescribing, dispensing, using, storing and disposing of these commonly abused pain medications.

Developed in consultation with leading pain experts through a scientific process, the resources include a variety of "safe-use" programs, tools and educational materials intended for patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and communities. The materials were unveiled at the PAINWeek Conference taking place this week in Las Vegas.

The C.A.R.E.S. Alliance tools and materials were developed through a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA), a scientific methodology to identify where problems occur in the use of pain medications and the underlying causes of those problems. FMEA research presented at PAINWeek identified 79 "failure modes" - or areas where problems occur - in the use of opioids and 290 potential underlying causes of those failures. Based on those causes, 929 potential interventions were identified, leading to the development of 37 initial tools out of the 60 total that will eventually be available through the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance.1

More than 20 tools are currently available for access at These tools include clinical materials and risk assessments for physicians, safe-use guides for patients and general education related to safe and responsible opioid prescribing for all groups. As the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance expands, it will seek input from members and will offer additional tools, programs and research aimed at improving the science of safety for opioids.

"As healthcare professionals, we need to do a better job of assessing our patients' pain medication needs and of communicating the risks of the medications we prescribe," said Jeffrey Gudin, M.D., pain management and addiction expert at the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, N.J., one of the Mt. Sinai University School of Medicine affiliates. "Through the resources of the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance, patients, caregivers and health professionals will have access to information, tools and resources to help them better understand these risks and better ensure that the medications are used properly by only those for whom they are prescribed."

The C.A.R.E.S. Alliance is sponsored by Covidien, a leading global provider of healthcare products and the largest producer of prescription pain medications in the U.S. Through this new partnership, leading patient advocacy organizations, healthcare professional associations, healthcare professionals, government agencies, industry organizations and others will work together to address the insufficient knowledge of pain medications that often can lead to misuse and abuse. Additionally, the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance will focus on ensuring that patients suffering from chronic pain have access to necessary medications.

"Chronic pain affects tens of millions of people in America. Prescription pain medications can help chronic pain sufferers maintain their ability to work and function, but these drugs also can be very dangerous if they are not used properly," said Herbert Neuman, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer - Pharmaceuticals for Covidien. "We want to make sure patients and physicians not only understand the importance of these medications for providing pain relief, but also comprehend the very real risks these medications carry. Proper steps must be taken to ensure the safety of patients and their families."

For more information about the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance or to access its resources, please visit

Facts about pain and opioid abuse

  • More than 76 million Americans are currently living with pain - ranging from back pain and migraines to post-surgical and cancer pain - according to the National Centers for Health Statistics and the American Pain Foundation.2 At the same time, the number of Americans seeking treatment for abusing prescription pain medications increased 400 percent in the past decade, according to a July 2010 White House study.3
  • According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, prescription drugs are one of the most commonly abused types of drug, second only to marijuana; and 70 percent of those who abuse prescription pain relievers get them from a friend or family member.4

About Covidien

Covidien is a leading global healthcare products company that creates innovative medical solutions for better patient outcomes and delivers value through clinical leadership and excellence. Covidien manufactures, distributes and services a diverse range of industry-leading product lines in three segments: Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies. With 2009 revenue of $10.3 billion, Covidien has 42,000 employees worldwide in more than 60 countries, and its products are sold in over 140 countries. Please visit to learn more about our business.

1 Holman K, Mills S, Morelli A, et al. A Science-Based Approach to Responsible Risk Management for a Novel Long-Acting Opioid Analgesic [poster]. American Society of Pain Educators. September 2010.

2 Pain Facts & Figures. American Pain Foundation. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.

3 US Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.

4 US Department of Health and Human Services.

SOURCE: Covidien

JoAnna Schooler
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Director, Communications
Brett W. Avants
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Manager, Media Relations