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Surgeon General enlists nation’s physicians to help end opioid abuse



September 01, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Drug Prescribing/Dispensing Public Health Patient Care 

The U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, M.D., has asked the nation’s physicians to pledge their commitment to solving a health crisis facing America—opioid misuse, abuse and overdose.


“We will educate ourselves to treat pain safely and effectively,” Dr. Murthy said in a letter to physicians. “We will screen our patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment. We can shape how the rest of the country sees addiction by talking about and treating it as a chronic illness, not a moral failing.”


In the letter, Dr. Murthy announced the launch of a national campaign called Turn the Tide Rx, which is designed to educate and mobilize prescribers to take immediate action to stem opioid abuse. As part of the campaign, physicians are being asked to help #TurnTheTide with an online pledge to help combat opioid abuse at www.turnthetiderx.org. "As cynical as times may seem, the public still looks to our profession for hope during difficult moments. This is one of those times," wrote Dr. Murthy.


The California Medical Association (CMA) supports a well-balanced approach to opioid prescribing and treatment that considers the unique needs of individual patients. CMA urges physicians to review the Medical Board of California's “Guidelines for Prescribing Controlled Substances for Pain,” which are intended to specifically address the use of opioids in the long-term treatment of chronic pain. The medical board guidelines also include references to special patient populations for other types of pain and across other treatment scenarios, as well as an extensive discussion about the nature and treatment of pain in general.


CMA is also offering a webinar, “Understanding Pain and Safe Prescribing Guidelines,” intended for clinicians interested in the fundamentals of pain and improving their knowledge and skills in pain assessment and management, including safe prescribing and effective opioid treatment. The webinar will be on September 14, 2016, and continuing medical education credit is available. Registration is free for CMA members, and $99 for nonmembers.


For more information, see CMA's Safe Prescribing resource page. There, you will find the most current information and resources on prescribing controlled substances safely and effectively to relieve pain, while simultaneously reducing the risk of prescription medication misuse, addiction and overdose.


The resource page includes both of CMA’s white papers on prescribing opioids, links to CMA’s health law library resources on the topic, a listing of continuing medical education courses and webinars on pain management and safe prescribing, as well as the latest information on the state's prescription drug monitoring database.

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