March 12, 2018
ASA Members Appointed to HHS Pain Management Task Force
Earlier this month, two physician anesthesiologists were appointed to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. ASA congratulates Sherif Zaafran, M.D. and Helena Gazella, M.D. on this appointment. Their leadership is recognized and ASA appreciates HHS ensuring that physician anesthesiologists, as leaders in pain medicine and patient safety, are involved in developing policies and solutions to address the ongoing opioid epidemic.
The creation of the Task Force stems from passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, which included key provisions supported by ASA— including programs to expand access to naloxone, enable patients to partially fill opioid prescriptions and grant support for state prescription drug monitoring programs. On the Task Force, Drs. Zaafran and Gazella will be working with other relevant stakeholders to determine whether there are gaps or inconsistencies in pain management best practices among federal agencies, as well as make recommendations on best practices for prescribing pain medication and for managing chronic and acute pain. The Task Force consists of representatives from HHS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as well as experts in pain management, pain advocacy, addiction, recovery, substance abuse disorders, mental health, minority health, the addiction treatment community, first responders, medical boards, and veteran service organizations.
ASA is pleased to support private-public partnerships that seek to address the opioid abuse epidemic. Last week, ASA engaged leaders from Walmart’s Health and Wellness Practice Compliance Division on appropriate opioid prescribing and pharmacists’ role in safe dispensing. Last month, ASA also provided recommendations to the Senate Committee on Finance including several ways for Congress to address the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) programs.