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Friday May 20, 2016

Let's All Commit to Reverse the Opioid Epidemic

Last week, AMA President Steven Stack, M.D., issued a letter entitled "Confronting a Crisis: An Open Letter to America's Physicians on the Opioid Epidemic(www.huffingtonpost.com)." We have been working closely with the AMA and other physician organizations on this issue through the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse.

As family physicians, we see the havoc opioid abuse is causing families and communities across the United States. That's why we're working hard to provide adequate pain management for our patients who need it, while at the same time, raising awareness that addiction to opioids is a national health crisis.

© 2016 Sheri Porter/AAFP

Here I am discussing the nation's opioid crisis with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. We met April 18 in Washington to discuss possible collaborations between the Academy and the surgeon general's office.

A recent AAFP study showed that opioids are not our first choice when we're treating patients with chronic pain -- four other treatment methods (physical and occupational therapy, oral non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and antidepressants) are prescribed or recommended for our patients dealing with non-malignant chronic pain before opioids. While this is not a surprise to you, it is important to share this information with patients, payers, legislators and policy makers.

Please know that your AAFP is working closely with other organizations to combat the scourge of opioid abuse -- the White House, HHS, the surgeon general of the United States, and the CDC to name a few. And we have multiple resources readily available to you -- with more to come in early June.

We all need to do our part to end this epidemic. Showing our resolve, by voluntarily increasing our individual CME hours dedicated to opioids and pain management, is a step that we can each take. The AAFP has collated the CME on this topic to make it easier for you to locate, complete and report your hours. Please log in and refresh your knowledge on these critical issues.

Family physicians are dedicated to being a part of the solution to help slow this national crisis. Please join me. Together, we can address this devastating epidemic -- balancing pain relief for our patients in need with our sincere desire to always do no harm.

Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., is  president of the AAFP.

Posted at 10:55AM May 20, 2016 by Wanda Filer, M.D.

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