Profession Partners with White House to Address Prescription Drug Abuse

(October 21, 2015) Prescription drug abuse and heroin use have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families, while straining law enforcement and treatment programs. Today, the President will travel to West Virginia to hear directly from individuals and families affected by this epidemic and the health care professionals, law enforcement officers, and community leaders working to prevent addiction and respond to its aftermath. 

As part of today’s event, the President will announce federal, state, local and private sector efforts aimed at addressing the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic. These include commitments by more than 40 provider groups – representing doctors, dentists, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and educators -- that more than 540,000 health care providers will complete opioid prescriber training in the next two years. In addition, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, Google, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and other companies will donate millions of dollars in media space for PSAs about the risks of prescription drug misuse produced by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Today, the President issued a Memorandum to Federal Departments and Agencies directing two important steps to combat the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic:

More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes and the majority of those overdoses involve prescription medications. Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications in 2012 – enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.  Opioids are a class of prescription pain medications that includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone.  Heroin belongs to the same class of drugs, and four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription opioid pain medications.

In 2010, the President released his first National Drug Control Strategy, which emphasized the need for action to address opioid use disorders and overdose, while ensuring that individuals with pain receive safe, effective treatment.  Since then, the Administration has supported and expanded community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, improve prescribing practices for pain medication, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.

The most recent data show that the rate of overdoses involving prescription pain medication is leveling off, although it remains at an unacceptably high level. But the dramatic rise in heroin-related overdoses – which nearly doubled between 2011 and 2013 – shows the opioid crisis is far from over.

State, Local and Private Sector actions announced today include

Groups include the American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatricians, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American College of Osteopathic Internists, American Pain Society, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American College of Physicians, American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, American Academy of Pain Medicine, Interstate Postgraduate Medical Association, Physician’s Institute, American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, American Medical Student Association, American Medical Women's Association,Michigan Osteopathic Association, Ohio Osteopathic Association, Massachusetts Medical Society, Washington Osteopathic Medical Association, New Mexico Medical Society, California Academy of Family Physicians, Conjoint Committee on Continuing Education, Collaboration for REMS Education,  American Nurses Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation, American Academy of Physician Assistants, Physician Assistant Education Association, American Dental Association, American Physical Therapy Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, American Public Health Association, and Medscape.

Additional federal actions announced today include:

Today’s actions build on the Administration’s commitment to confronting this epidemic: 

In 2010, the President released his first National Drug Control Strategy, emphasizing the need for action to address opioid use disorders and overdose, while ensuring that individuals with pain receive safe, effective treatment.  The next year, the White House released its national Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan to outline our goals for addressing prescription drug abuse and overdose.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget includes $133 million in new investments aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic, including expanding state-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, medication-assisted treatment programs, and access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. 

Examples of additional actions by the Administration to address the opioid epidemic include:

Community Prevention and Overdose Response


Enforcement and Supply Reduction

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