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 American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit Follow us on Twitter,( and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,