- “There is no question that we are in the midst of an epidemic of prescription drug opioid misuse, abuse, overdose, and deaths from such drugs. At the same time, we are seeing an alarming related trend, with patients turning to illicit drugs such as heroin as the supply of prescription drugs decreases.
- The issues are complex and there is no one answer or solution, but we must approach the problems with a public health focus.
- As physicians, we need to take ownership and responsibility for prevention. We need to ensure that patients experiencing pain are appropriately treated, and that patients who abuse or misuse opioids are referred to and have access to treatment programs.
- The American Medical Association is providing leadership and working on a number of fronts to offer and implement specific strategies to deal with this epidemic. We are working with a diverse array of stakeholders at the federal and state levels to effect change.
- We have specific recommendations to address solutions. First, we support enhancing education and training of physicians, prescribers, and patients to ensure informed prescribing decisions to prevent and reduce the risks of opioid abuse. We are developing new training materials on responsible opioid prescribing through a SAMHSA grant.
- We need to ensure that patients in pain receive the care they need and reduce the stigma associated with many such patients. We must change the tone of the debate to pay more attention to multi-disciplinary, patient-centered approaches to pain management, including ensuring insurance coverage for evidence-based alternative pain management treatments.
- We need to recognize that opioid use disorder is a medical condition and increase coverage for and access to medication assisted treatment and other treatment programs. We need more resources devoted to ensure that evidence-based treatment is available and accessible.
- We need to increase access to naloxone and other overdose prevention measures, and enact Good Samaritan laws to provide protection from liability for bystanders who witness overdoses.
- We need to modernize and fully fund prescription drug monitoring programs. PDMPs can serve as a helpful clinical tool, but to increase their use, they need to be real-time, interoperable, and available at the point-of-care as part of a physician’s workflow.
- Physicians want to be engaged and be part of the
The statement is available at: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF02/20150423/103367/HHRG-114-IF02-Wstate-HarrisP-20150423.pdf
Source: American Medical Association – April 24, 2015