The Voice of Epidemiology


    Web EpiMonitor

► Home ► About ► News ► Job Bank Events ► Resources ► Contact
President’s Commission On Drug Addiction Makes Nine Recommendations To Address Current Epidemic

Solutions Exist, But Is There The Will To Implement?

In a brief 10 page preliminary report, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has called on the President to declare a national emergency. The urgency is  clear from facts about the epidemic. It is now killing an estimated 142 Americans each day---more than car crashes and gun homicides combined, and equivalent to enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks. The New York Times in its report “Short Answers to Hard Questions About the Opioid Crisis” calls it “the deadliest drug crisis in American history”.


The Commission’s recommendations call for:

·       Rapidly increasing treatment capacity by making a change to the Medicaid program

·       Mandating prescriber education about the proper treatment of pain

·       Funding a federal incentive to enhance access to medication-assisted treatment

·       Providing model legislation to states to allow naloxone dispensing via standing orders to equip law enforcement
                with this drug to reverse opioid overdose.

·       Developing fentanyl detection sensors and disseminate them to law enforcement agencies

·       Enhancing data-sharing between states with prescription drug monitoring programs

·       Making it easier for doctors and loved one to share medical information about patients with drug addictions

·       Ensuring health plans cannot impose less favorable benefits for mental health and substance abuse diagnoses

These recommendations are not new and touch on actions that public health experts and drug policy reformers have been advocating for years, according to media accounts. The Times emphasizes  that there is no silver bullet that can solve the drug problem and it points out that halting the opioid epidemic will take a combination of solutions. According to the paper, “officials want to use state prescription drug monitoring programs to reduce the supply of prescription opioids that end up being used recreationally while maintaining adequate access for current chronic pain patients. More broadly, experts say we need to improve the way our medical system manages pain… A more holistic approach to pain treatment would lessen the need for opioids.

On the treatment side, experts stress the importance of having treatment readily available for those who are already addicted. Often that means going to where the people are, not waiting for them to seek out treatment themselves. And addiction treatment doesn’t just mean counseling or an inpatient clinic. Studies show the most effective treatment for opioid addiction often requires medications. In the meantime, widespread distribution of naloxone — an overdose antidote — will save lives in acute cases.”

According to the Times, there isn’t agreement about other possible measures that could help. Public health experts advocate things like safe injection sites where people could use drugs under medical supervision, and drug checking services that people could use to test drugs for fentanyl but many in law enforcement remain reluctant to adopt such measures.

The Times makes the point that the recommendations can only help if they are adopted. “Of course, these are only recommendations. It’s up to the president and the various executive agencies to implement them. Experts know how to attack the problem. It’s just a matter of having the will to put those policies into practice.” 

Reader Comments:
Have a thought or comment on this story ?  Fill out the information below and we'll post it on this page once it's been reviewed by our editors.

  Name:        Phone:   



      ©  2011 The Epidemiology Monitor

Privacy  Terms of Use  Sitemap

Digital Smart Tools, LLC