HCN News & Notes

American Medical Association Welcomes HHS Opioid Strategy

CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA) said today it looks forward to working with the Trump Administration as it implements a new strategy for combating the nation’s opioid epidemic. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price outlined the strategy Wednesday at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit.

“We are pleased that many of the items on the administration’s agenda for combating the opioid epidemic overlap with steps being taken by the AMA and America’s physicians. Secretary Price is exactly right that we need to close the treatment gap — driven by demand from people suffering from substance use disorder yet unable to access treatment,” said AMA Board Chair Patrice A. Harris, MD. “We need bold — and long-term — action, as the epidemic is still devastating communities and families.”

Price also announced $485 million in grants to states for evidence-based prevention and treatment activities.

“This will significantly help state efforts to fund programs, and we look forward to learning which efforts are most successful so we can build best practices throughout the nation. We also look forward to full funding of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act so even more resources will be available to fight the epidemic,” Harris said.

The AMA and its Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse are urging physicians to take action to help reverse the epidemic by: Using prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to help inform prescribing decisions; enhancing their education; urging their patients to safely secure their prescriptions; removing the stigma of substance use disorders; co-prescribing overdose-reversing drugs; and more.

Harris, who is chair of the Task Force, also spoke this week at the National Rx Summit about the AMA’s efforts, emphasizing the need for increased access to treatment for substance use disorders as well as comprehensive care for patients with chronic pain, including nonpharmacologic options.

At the Rx Summit, Harris pointed to large increases in the use of PDMPs and reductions in opioid prescriptions. More than 115,000 physicians have accessed, attended or completed continuing medical education courses in safe prescribing, pain management, addiction and related topics. There also have been large increases in the numbers of physicians certified to provide office-based, medication-assisted treatment and who co-prescribe naloxone.

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