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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

This Week's News

AMA urges comprehensive approach as Rx drug abuse soars in states

AMA urges comprehensive approach as Rx drug abuse soars in states

Two new reports highlight the nation's increasing prescription drug abuse and diversion epidemic, in which the number of deaths has doubled in more than half of the country.

In a study by the Trust for America's Health, 10 indicators are used to rank state efforts to rein in this public health problem, while a National Safety Council report ranks states based on four main areas. New Mexico and Vermont ranked highest in the first report, while Kentucky and Washington were the top ranked in the National Safety Council report.

Mortality rates range from 3.4 per 100,000 in North Dakota to 28.9 per 100,000 in West Virginia, which is up from 4.1 in 1999.

The AMA is pushing state decision-makers to adopt a comprehensive approach to combat this crisis. In a recent letter to the National Conference of Insurance Legislators and a separate letter to the Federation of State Medical Boards, the AMA urged the organizations to comprehensively address prescription drug abuse and diversion while also preserving the ability of physicians to provide pain management for patients in need.

Just as a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply to pain management, the AMA says a nuanced approach is necessary and is advocating for "a wide range of recommendations rather than … one-size-fits-all solutions."

Among the AMA's recommendations are a focus on public health, incentives to promote awareness, point-of-care decision support for physicians, increased access to substance abuse prevention and treatment resources, and appropriate enforcement.

The AMA has worked with more than 50 state and specialty medical societies on the prescription drug abuse and pain management issues and will continue to promote a multipronged, coordinated strategy. Visit the AMA's prescription drug abuse and diversion Web page to learn more.