Statement attributable to:
Patrice A. Harris, M.D.
Chair, AMA Board of Trustees

“The American Medical Association (AMA) is deeply concerned by new data showing that opioid-related overdose and death continue to ravage our nation. The nation’s physicians will continue our intense efforts across many fronts and keep working with key stakeholders to reverse this epidemic.

“The new funding that will be provided by the CURES legislation that Congress passed this week holds promise for helping to reduce the treatment gap for patients with substance use disorders. The AMA urges state and federal policymakers to work closely with physicians and others on the front lines of this epidemic to ensure that this promise is realized. Broader implementation of evidence-based treatment programs is needed to prevent opioid-related harm and death and to support patients with substance use disorders in leading satisfying and productive lives.

“The AMA agrees that physicians should limit prescriptions for opioid analgesics to the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible duration. The new data underscores our concern, however, that overly restrictive public policies that focus only on prescription opioid supply may lead some patients to turn to dangerous alternatives or street drugs. The sharp rise in heroin and illicit fentanyl deaths should give policymakers an urgent call to action that this epidemic requires a comprehensive, public health approach based on proven evidence.

“If it was not for the widespread access to naloxone across the country, there would likely be thousands more deaths. Physicians need to co-prescribe this life-saving medication to any patient at risk of overdose.”

Earlier this year, Dr. Steven J. Stack, the AMA’s immediate past president, issued an open letter to physicians on their leadership responsibility in reversing the opioid epidemic.

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