Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Key to Curbing Opioid Abuse

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5223

Physician Groups Band Together to Address America’s Opioid Crisis

CHICAGO—Opioid abuse is a serious public health problem that has reached crisis levels across the United States, with 44 people dying each day( from opioid overdose, and many more becoming addicted. Today the American Medical Association Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse announced the first of several national recommendations to address this growing epidemic.

The AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse ( comprised of several physician organizations including the American Academy of Family Physicians, that are committed to identifying the best practices to combat this public health crisis.

“Prescription painkillers present a tough issue for physicians. We want to make sure that patients who suffer from chronic pain are able to get the care they need, but at the same time, we have to do everything we can to prevent addiction and overdose,” said Robert Wergin, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “That’s why we’ve joined this task force—opioid abuse has become a public health epidemic that must be stopped.”

The task force’s initial focus will be on efforts that urge physicians to register for and use state-based prescription drug monitoring programs as part of the decision-making process when considering treatment options. When PDMPs are fully-funded, contain relevant clinical information, and are available at the point of care, they have shown to be an effective tool for physicians.

“PDMPs vary greatly in efficacy and functionality from state to state,” said AMA Board Chair-Elect Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA. “Alone, they will not end this crisis, but they can provide helpful clinical information, and because they are available in nearly every state, PDMPs can be effective in turning the tide to end opioid abuse in the right direction.”

The new initiative seeks to significantly enhance physicians’ education on safe, effective and evidence-based prescribing. This includes a new resource web page( that houses vital information on PDMPs and their effectiveness for physician practices, as well as a robust national marketing, social and communications campaign to significantly raise awareness of the steps that physicians can take to combat this epidemic.

Robert “Chuck” Rich, MD, serves as the AAFP’s representative on the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse.

The Task Force is just one way that the AAFP is working toward a solution to America’s opioid abuse epidemic. By collaborating with other organizations, educating its members, and advocating for evidence-based solutions, the AAFP has established itself as a leading voice in the fight against opioid abuse. The AAFP’s pain management and opioid abuse position paper details the AAFP’s recommendations on this serious public health threat.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 124,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions(5 page PDF) on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,