Dr Meghna Jani, an Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded a prestigious five-year National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Advanced Fellowship (NIHR Clinician Scientist).
The grant of £1.3 million was awarded for her fellowship ‘Harnessing digital data to improve the benefit:harm balance of opioids for non-cancer pain’ and will be based in the Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis/ Centre for Musculoskeletal Research at The University of Manchester, where she is a Senior Clinical Lecturer. As well as research costs, the grant award will support building a research team.
The programme of work builds on studies and collaborations established during her Presidential Fellowship and the Farr Institute (now HDR UK)/ Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences Canadian fellowship during her NIHR Clinical Lectureship. Dr Jani was also awarded the British Society for Rheumatology Young Investigator Award in 2019 and The University of Manchester Turnberg Cup in 2018 for pilot work in drug safety.
She said: “The safe prescribing of opioids in chronic non-cancer pain is a vitally important issue. With an opioid epidemic affecting North America, opioids and their related harms are an emerging public health concern in several high-income countries. This programme of work will examine drug safety and patterns of current use of opioids from diverse digital data including international, national and regional routinely-collected electronic health records (including from NCA) as well as emerging patient generated data.
“The fellowship research will provide a lens on opioid use from the point of view of which drugs and at what dose are concerning, which patient subgroups are susceptible and which individual patients are most susceptible to harm. The analysis of big data using novel machine learning/ AI methods will provide more nuanced models in the prediction of opioid related harms than has been previously possible. This tri-partite epidemiological approach will provide evidence which will support better implementation of the research findings through actionable analytics, with the aim of ultimately improving prescribing practices for personalised patient care.”
Opioids have serious risk of harms, dependence and addiction, especially with long-term use. Following concerns raised about the prescribing rates of opioids in the UK, the MHRA Opioid Expert Working Group of the Commission on Human Medicines have developed a set of recommendations to improve information for prescribers and patients and to protect public health. These recommendations have formed the basis of the MHRA’s new warnings.