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ACP Calls for Continued Action in Fighting Opioid Crisis After Encouraging White House Summit

Washington, DC (March 1, 2018) —The American College of Physicians (ACP) is encouraged by the Trump administration’s demonstrated willingness to address the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment and recovery. The College appreciates being invited to today’s White House Opioid Summit to learn more about the Administration’s progress in combating the opioid crisis and their plans moving forward. ACP believes that physicians have an ethical obligation to manage and treat pain in a manner that reflects the best available clinical evidence.

“It was very encouraging to hear that the administration’s approach to the crisis will emphasize prevention, treatment and recovery, and reducing the stigmatization of those suffering from addiction or in recovery,” said Bob Doherty, Senior Vice President, Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, ACP, who was invited to attend the summit on the College’s behalf.  “ACP has long called for substance use disorders to be viewed as a preventable and treatable public health issue, not as a character or moral failing, and the administration’s approach appears to be in sync with this.”

The goals outlined in today’s opioid summit by First Lady Melania Trump, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, and cabinet secretaries Azar (HHS), Shulkin (VA), and Carson (HUD) are aligned with ACP’s commitment to helping medical professionals respond to the opioid epidemic through education and continued advocacy efforts. 

In March 2017, ACP published a paper, Health and Public Policy to Facilitate Effective Prevention and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Involving Illicit and Prescription Drugs, asserting that substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, are chronic medical conditions treatable through public and individual health interventions.  In November 2017, ACP expressed support for the recommendations that the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis laid out.  Additionally, ACP recently told the Senate Finance Committee that Congress should enact legislation that will improve the treatment for patients with opioid use disorders through Medicare and Medicaid reform to incentivize the integration of behavioral health into primary care.

The College has also initiated programs to educate physicians on safe prescribing and prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.  Nearly 7,000 physicians have studied safe opioid prescribing principles using ACP’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS); the REMS live course will again be provided as a full day activity during ACP’s Internal Medicine Meeting in April 2018. The opioid epidemic is the Featured Topic on the ACP Online Learning Center.  This provides easy access to four collections of educational materials: Opioid Therapy, Chronic Pain Management, Behavioral Health, and Substance Use Disorder.  ACP online educational materials on Opioid Therapy include 17 different learning activities, including videos of live presentations, recorded webinars, peer reviewed articles and modular online learning. 

Most recently, ACP received a $50,000 sub-award from the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) to help combat the nation’s opioid crisis.  The grant is part of $24 million in funding over two years that AAAP recently received from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“Hundreds of thousands of patients have died from the devastating effects of opioid addiction. ACP committed to working with the Administration and Congress to continue to take concrete action to help those afflicted with substance abuse disorders and prevent more from joining their ranks,” continued Mr. Doherty.  “Increased funding and resources are critical to effectively implementing policies that will end this public health epidemic.  We need to ensure everyone needing treatment gets the support and care they require, for as long as it takes.”

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About the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 152,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact: Julie Hirschhorn, (202) 261-4523, jhirschhorn@acponline.org