Statement attributable to:
Barbara L. McAneny, M.D.
President, American Medical Association

“With overdoses and deaths continuing to plague communities across the country, the AMA welcomes the FDA’s decision to include tapering guidance on the labels of prescription opioids. This patient-centric approach will encourage discussions between patients and physicians on whether a decrease in dose or discontinuation of the opioid is the best approach. If so, the patient and physicians should discuss how to safely decrease dosages. The FDA notes that there is no standard tapering schedule suitable for all patients. The right approach depends on conversations between patients and physicians, including a decision to maintain the patient on a current dose if the benefits outweigh the risks.  

“We agree that only a multimodal approach to pain care, including mental health support, will be effective. It is important for insurers to cover a variety of pain management treatments, and for physicians to ensure follow up and support for patients managing pain and changes to their medication regimens.

“The labeling changes mirror many of the points that the AMA has emphasized in its efforts to end the opioid epidemic. It also reinforces many of the policies recommended by the HHS Interagency Pain Management Task Force

“Finally, we appreciate FDA’s commitment to engage with physician groups on these labeling changes. Working together will strengthen both of our efforts to end this epidemic.”  

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Editor’s note: The AMA Opioid Task Force is chaired by AMA President-elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. The AMA convened more than 25 national, state, specialty and other health care associations in 2014 to form the AMA Opioid Task Force to coordinate efforts within organized medicine to help end the nation’s opioid epidemic. Additional information on the AMA Opioid Task Force is available here. Real-time updates on the AMA’s work on opioids is accessible here

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.