The AMA last week issued its 2022 Overdose Epidemic National Report, which showed a worsening epidemic and called for an all-hands approach—physicians, policymakers, public health experts, educators, faith leaders and employers—to help save lives.
The report highlighted that while physicians and other health care professionals have decreased opioid prescribing by nearly 50% nationally since 2012, used state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) more than 1.1 billion times in 2021, and have increased prescriptions for medications to treat opioid use disorder and naloxone—more than 107,000 Americans died of a drug-related overdose in 2021, mainly due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine. At the same time, health insurers continue to violate state and federal mental health and substance use disorder parity laws, individuals are unable to access treatment for substance use disorders or mental illness and patients with pain continue to suffer by the misapplication of the 2016 CDC opioid prescribing guideline. Health inequities also continue to worsen.
“No community has been—or will be—spared the pain of this epidemic. The spiking mortality numbers—with young people and Black and Brown Americans dying at the fastest growing rates—add yet another urgent call to remove health inequities from the nation’s health care system. We know policymakers have not exhausted all remedies. Until we have, we must keep advocating for humane, evidence-based responses,” said Bobby Mukkamala, MD, chair of the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force (PDF).
Read the full report, including state-by-state data for opioid prescriptions, medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), naloxone and PDMP use.