The issue of opioid abuse will take a long-term, concentrated effort from the FDA, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and health-related professionals and organizations to sufficiently address, according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
“This report provides an action plan ... to help the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain while reducing unnecessary opioid prescribing,” Richard J. Bonnie, director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, and chair of the committee that prepared the report, said in a press release. “We also wanted to convey a clear message about the magnitude of the challenge. This epidemic took nearly two decades to develop, and it will take years to unravel.”
The release stated that as of 2015, at least 2 million people have an opioid use disorder, and cited data that indicate 91 people die every day from the disease.
Among the recommendations the Academies made:
•preventing overdose deaths and other opioid-related harms should be substantially and immediately elevated as a public health priority;
•states, with assistance from relevant federal agencies, particularly the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provide universal access to evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder in a variety of settings, including hospitals, criminal justice settings, and substance-use treatment programs;
•the FDA should conduct a full review of the safety and effectiveness of all approved opioids;
•states should assemble a public-private partnership to implement drug take-back programs that allow drugs to be returned to any pharmacy on any day, rather than relying on occasional take-back events;
•public and private payers, including insurance companies, should create reimbursement models that support evidence-based and cost-effective comprehensive pain management, including both drug and non-drug treatments for pain;
•HHS, in concert with state organizations, should sponsor or conduct research on how data from prescription drug monitoring programs can be better leveraged to track opioid prescribing and dispensing information; and
•industry, as well as the NIH, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, should invest in research that explores the nature of pain and opioid use disorder, as well as develop new non-addictive treatments for pain.
The group’s report, prepared at the FDA’s request and released today, is the latest to offer suggestions on how to best address the opioid crisis. Earlier this week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb outlined several new strategies that agency will undertake to combat the epidemic, including offering new training on opioid prescription writing and taking steps to see if naming conventions involving opioids can be improved. – by Janel Miller
Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine Bonnie’s relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.