Overdose Epidemic

White House convenes experts to tackle prescription drug abuse


A national summit to discuss federal, state and community responses to the prescription drug abuse crisis took place at the White House earlier this month, underscoring the enormity and importance of the problem.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) hosted the summit, bringing together experts on education, treatment and overdose prevention from across the country. Issues explored included expanding drug treatment access through the Affordable Care Act, encouraging medical professionals to understand the signs and symptoms of problematic drug use and intervene before substance abuse becomes a chronic condition, and supporting the use of the overdose antidote naloxone.

Andrew Gurman, MD, speaker of the AMA House of Delegates, participated in the event, representing the AMA’s strong support for an evidence-based, public health approach to addressing the crisis, including efforts to enhance education and increase access to treatment for substance abuse and addiction. 



Others at the summit included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, Acting Director of ONDCP Michael Botticelli and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Nora Volkow. Watch videos from the summit on the ONDCP’s YouTube channel.

“Each of you stands on the front lines of our efforts to protect this nation from the devastating impact of illegal drug use,” Holder told the physicians and other attendees at the summit. “I recognize that we cannot solve this problem through enforcement alone. And we will never be able to arrest or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation.”

The number of drug overdose deaths in the United States has increased rapidly from 1999 to 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Visit the AMA’s Web page on combating prescription drug abuse and diversion to learn about the AMA’s work with state medical associations, federal agencies and lawmakers to stop prescription drug abuse and preserve access to treatment for the patients who need it.