Gov’t agencies, orgs discuss opioid epidemic at national Rx conference

Gov’t agencies, orgs discuss opioid epidemic at national Rx conference

Key figures in the battle against the opioid epidemic gathered at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia last week to discuss how to overcome it.

[The summit] gathered nearly 2,400 stakeholders from across the country to discuss action strategies for addressing this public health emergency,” said Doug Edwards, the director of the Institute for the Advancement of Behavioral Healthcare, which organizes the annual summit. “Law enforcement, treatment, prevention, advocacy and other key groups shared ideas, discussed plans, and heard from senior federal and state lawmakers.”

A number of high-profile figures in the battle against the ongoing opioid epidemic were featured speakers at the conference: the acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Anne Schuchat; the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), Dr. Tom Price; and Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the former U.S. Surgeon General, whose enlightening report on the opioid epidemic, “Facing Addiction in America,” was released last year.

The conference presented an opportunity to share assessments of the opioid epidemic and discuss the best approaches for those on the front lines. As the recently appointed secretary of the HHS, Price cited five strategies the agency will use to combat the epidemic: increase access to addiction recovery treatment, promote access to overdose-reversal drugs (such as naloxone), increase public health surveillance, provide support for current research on addiction, and encourage better pain management practices.

Price emphasized the need to ensure that doctors understand the nature of addiction so they’re able to prescribe medication without the risk of the patient veering into substance abuse. Part of the plan in accomplishing this goal is the introduction of an updated approach to pain management, which will take into account new knowledge about prescription painkillers and addiction. In addition, Price underscored the importance of the addiction committee being helmed by New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

“Conferences such as this help educate, galvanize and mobilize efforts on the national, state and local levels,” said Fran Harding, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention within Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “They help disseminate effective practices promoting recognition of substance use as a public health problem for which a coordinated response that addresses both supply and demand is required.”

Schuchat highlighted the agency’s commitment to… (continue reading)