Opioid Painkiller Expert Group


The group was originally formed as the Opioid Painkiller Dependence Alliance to bring together experts in the fields of pain and addiction with the following aims:

  • to lobby and campaign to influence and inform policy to reduce the harm of long term opioid painkiller use
  • to work in partnership with Government, professional bodies, academic and professional stakeholders
  • to raise professional and public awareness through knowledge sharing on multiple channels
  • to create a platform to enhance networks through relationship building and knowledge sharing.


Members of the group are active in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prescribed Drug Dependence, Public Health England Prescribed Medicines Review; the Medicines and Health Regulatory Authority Opioid Stakeholders Group; and have contributed their expertise by way of articles and presentations on request to e.g. British Journal of General Practice, annual RCGP/SMMGP Managing Drugs & Alcohol in Primary Care conference and by commenting in the media. 


Dr Martin Johnson GP with a specific interest in the management of chronic pain and the RCGP lead for chronic pain. He is the author of several articles regarding pain management, particularly focusing on neuropathic pain, the use of opioids and the organisation of pain services in the community. He is Vice President to the British Pain Society. He is the Co-Chair of Chronic Pain Policy Coalition. 

Dr Jane Quinlan Consultant in anaesthetics and pain management in Oxford since 2000, and an honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford. Secretary of the Acute Pain Special Interest Group (APSIG) for the International Association for the Study of Pain and a past chair of APSIG of the British Pain Society. On the editorial board of the British Journal of Pain. Dr Quinlan has a particular interest in opioid painkiller dependence and established a clinic to support local pain patients on high dose opioids to reduce their doses, and she lectures on the topic nationally both to lay and medical audiences.

Cathryn Kemp Cathryn was addicted to opiate painkillers for four years before she went into rehab and conquered her addiction. She went onto write her story titled From wreckage to redemption which won the 2013 Big Red Read Award for non-fiction and which has since been reissued as Coming clean: diary of a painkiller addict (Piatkus 2017) She is now the Chief Executive of the Painkiller Addiction Information Network (PAIN).

Viv Evans With over 40 years of experience working in the public and voluntary sector, Vivienne Evans OBE has a wealth of knowledge around substance misuse, prevention and education. As the Chief Executive of Adfam since 2002, a national charity who works with families affected by substance misuse, Viv has helped to unpick the stigma around addiction to cultivate constructive dialogue that connects with those most affected. She is a current member of the ACMD’s Recovery Substance Misuse Committee and The International Society of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Professionals (ISSUP).

Duncan Hill is a Specialist Pharmacist in Substance Misuse (SPiSM) in NHS Lanarkshire. He started in community pharmacy after qualifying from RGIT, Aberdeen and became a specialist addictions pharmacist in 2005 in NHSGGC before moving to Lanarkshire. A qualified and practising Pharmacist Independent Prescriber; he is a member of the Scottish Specialist Pharmacists in Substance Misuse group; an Honorary Lecturer at Strathclyde University and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Caledonia University and has published a number of articles on addiction related topics. 

Dr Yasir Abbasi is Consultant Psychiatrist & Clinical Director for Addictions Services at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool. In 2013 he was awarded the doctor of the year award by Yorkshire Evening Post. He has appeared on radio and television programmes and also writes for newspapers to increase awareness about various mental health issues. He has had many publications in peer reviewed journals and newsletters. He is currently the chair for the North British Association for Addiction Professionals and a founding trustee of PAIN (Pain Killer Addiction Information Network) charity. He is the regional speciality representative for the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Dr Steve Brinksman has been a GP in Birmingham for 25 years working alongside drug and alcohol users since the start of his career. He is the Clinical Director of SMMGP and the Medical Director for Swanswell, a charity providing substance misuse services. He was also the DAAT’s alcohol lead for primary care and has been the RCGP’s regional lead in substance misuse for the West Midlands.

Harry Shapiro is Director of DrugWise, an online drug information service, and Managing Editor of DS Daily, the daily online drug, alcohol and tobacco news service. He has worked in the drugs field for over 35 years, first with the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence and then from 2000 with DrugScope where he was Director of Communications. He was DrugScope’s main media spokesperson, managing editor of Druglink magazine and has written extensively on all aspects of drugs and drug-related issues combining this with lecturing, public speaking and advisory work. He is also a member of Public Health England National Drug Intelligence Network, and Secretariat of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prescribed Drug Dependence.

The Opioid Expert Group was originally the Opioid Painkiller Dependence Alliance.