The AMA has issued a new report (PDF) outlining how physician leadership is advancing to fight the opioid epidemic. The report found:

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  • Opioid prescribing has decreased for the fifth consecutive year with decreases in every state; a 22.2 percent nationwide decline overall.
  • Use of and registration in Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs has continued to increase. In 2017 health care professionals accessed state PDMPs more than 337.1 million times, up 148 percent from 2016. Since 2014 more than 1.5 million physicians have registered with their state PDMP.
  • In 2017 more than 549,700 physicians took some form of continuing medical education or other activity related to pain management, substance use disorders or related areas.
  • Access to naloxone has increased, with the number of prescriptions dispensed per week having doubled from 3,500 to 8,000 last year.
  • Treatment capacity is increasing. As of May of this year more than 50,000 physicians were certified to provide buprenorphine in office for the treatment of opioid use disorder in all 50 states, a 42 percent increase in one year.

"While this progress report shows physician leadership and action to help reverse the epidemic, such progress is tempered by the fact that every day, more than 115 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose," said Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. "What is needed now is a concerted effort to greatly expand access to high quality care for pain and for substance use disorders. Unless and until we do that, this epidemic will not end."

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