August 29, 2016
Surgeon General Seeks Stakeholder Engagement to Address the Opioid Epidemic
In the next several weeks, the U.S. Surgeon General will be sending a letter on the opioid epidemic to nearly 2.3 million physicians and other health care professionals. We encourage ASA members to read the letter online or look for the letter in their mailboxes and respond to the Surgeon General’s call to action to:
1. educate ourselves to treat pain safely and effectively
2. screen our patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment
3. talk about and treat addiction as a chronic illness, not a moral failing
ASA is working closely with key stakeholders to reduce the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. Recent key efforts include:
• Creating an ASA Ad Hoc Committee on Prescription Opioid Abuse, which focuses on identifying common-sense ways to reduce prescription opioid abuse and promote safe and effective treatments for patients with chronic pain.
• President Obama signing into law legislation that includes numerous grant programs and ASA-supported provisions to address the prescription opioid abuse epidemic. ASA-supported provisions will expand access to naloxone; allow patients to partially fill prescriptions for controlled substances; reauthorize NASPER, a public health grant program for prescription drug monitoring programs that has been long-supported by ASA; and enable NIH to intensify pain research.
• Collaborating with the CDC on the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, which provides recommendations for primary care providers on: 1) when to initiate or continue opioids for chronic pain; 2) opioid selection, dosage, duration, follow-up, and discontinuation; and 3) assessing risk and addressing harms of opioid use. As a result of ASA’s advocacy, the CDC clarified that the final Guideline does not apply to opioid treatment for post-surgical pain.
• Joining a White House public-private sector partnership to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic. As part of this partnership, the White House announced the Fraternal Order of Police would distribute to its 330,000 members ASA’s Opioid Overdose Resuscitation card, which identifies the signs and symptoms of an overdose and how to respond.
• Partnering with the American Medical Association on the Task Force to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse, which aims to increase physicians’ registration and use of effective prescription drug monitoring programs; enhance physicians’ education on effective, evidence-based prescribing; reduce the stigma of pain and promote comprehensive assessment and treatment; reduce the stigma of substance use disorder and enhance access to treatment; and expand access to naloxone in the community and through co-prescribing.
Members can learn more about ASA’s work to reduce the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs here.