Pene Wood. Photo: MICHAEL ANGOVE.

A pharmacy researcher will cycle 700 kilometres over eight days, to educate rural Tasmanian communities about pain management, and lessen the impact of problematic prescription medication use.

An expert in opioid dependence and problematic use, Pene Wood of La Trobe University Bendigo, has been selected to participate in the Pain Revolution Rural Outreach Ride, from March 16 to 23, covering rural communities between Devonport and Hobart.

Ms Wood said dependence on prescription medications is a growing problem, particularly in rural and regional communities, where access to multidisciplinary support services for chronic pain sufferers is limited.

“On a per capita basis, regional Australia is experiencing increasing pharmaceutical-related deaths, and at a far higher rate than in metropolitan areas,” Ms Wood said.

“As a pharmacist and educator, I want to use my knowledge and influence to make a difference to the levels of awareness and understanding of this tragic problem.”

The only pharmacist participating in the event, Ms Wood will join a team of GPs, physiotherapists, psychologists and exercise physiologists, to deliver more than 10 educational events during the eight day ride.

The events held in Devonport, Burnie, Smithton, Launceston, Hobart and Huonville – will be attended by both local health professionals and members of the community.

“People suffering from chronic pain need to understand that medication alone is not the answer – and that health professionals can help them put alternative strategies in place,” Ms Wood said.

“I have worked for over 15 years as a pharmacist, and have seen first-hand the detrimental effects of problematic opioid use, if chronic pain is not managed in an informed and holistic manner.”

Funds raised through the event will go towards training and mentoring health professionals to become local pain educators, and to increase awareness of best practice pain management.

In Victoria the number of people who die from prescription medication-related overdose outnumbers not only illicit drug deaths, but has exceeded the road toll for the past five years.

Members of the community wanting to help Ms Wood reach her $3000 fundraising target, can donate at