Report Outlines Strategy to Reduce Opioid Epidemic

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Health professionals, health-related organizations and government agencies all have a role to play in solving the opioid epidemic that affects millions of Americans. Written by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a new report (available at http://bit.ly/2udGBP9) provides recommended solutions that include more judicious prescribing of opioids.

“The broad reach of the epidemic has blurred the formerly distinct social boundary between prescribed opioids and illegally manufactured ones, such as heroin,” notes Committee Chair Richard J. Bonnie, Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law and director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Two of the recommendations are to mandate pain-management education for all health care professionals, and training prescribers and pharmacists to recognize and counsel patients who are at risk for opioid use disorder or overdose.

Another recommendation urges public and private insurance payers to develop reimbursement models that support evidence-based and cost-effective pain management strategies, including drug and non-drug treatments. The report also calls for an FDA review of the safety and effectiveness of all approved opioids, and for states to facilitate drug take-back programs that allow unused prescription opioids to be returned to any pharmacy.

From Decisions in Dentistry. September 2017;3(9):12.

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