Family Physicians Commend Introduction of Bill Addressing Addiction

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 6252

LEAWOOD, Kan. — Family physicians welcomed the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, but cautioned against a provision in the bill that could impose barriers to evidence-based and medically necessary treatment to patients who have legitimate pain.

The American Academy of Family Physician comments came in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid by AAFP Board Chair Robert Wergin, MD.

“The AAFP is deeply concerned that the abuse of heroin and prescription opioid painkillers is having a devastating effect on public health and safety in our communities,” Wergin wrote.

He praised the bill’s public awareness campaign to educate patients about the risks of abuse when opioid drugs are not taken as prescribed. He also supported the legislation’s provision to authorize grants to states for establishing a comprehensive prescription drug monitoring program to track dispensing Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances.

“The AAFP has called on all states to implement prescription drug monitoring programs and the interstate exchange of registry information as called for under the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act in our pain management and opioid abuse position paper,” Wergin wrote. “The AAFP realizes that there are patients with inappropriate drug-seeking behavior. However, it is not always clear who these individuals are absent a database containing this information. Family physicians in states with prescription drug monitoring programs find such databases useful tools in treating patients and in preventing diversion.

“The AAFP believes increased funding for NASPER would help stem the growing problem of interstate diversion and misuse of narcotics by allowing family physicians to determine whether a patient has received prescriptions in other states.”

However, CARA raises “serious concerns” because it would require a Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force to impose “so-called ‘best practices’ on receiving and renewing registrations for prescribing medications regulated under the Controlled Substances Act.”

AAFP’s position paper on pain management outlines the organization’s concerns about restrictions on physicians who prescribe pain medications.

“The creation of additional prescribing barriers for primary care physicians would limit patient access when there is a legitimate need for pain relief,” the position paper says. “The Institutes of Medicine report on chronic pain management has called for a tailored approach to pain care utilizing patient self-management strategies, primary care, specialty care, and pain centers. But the IOM also acknowledges that most pain care should be provided by primary care physicians, including teams of physicians organized into medical homes. To improve the delivery of chronic pain care, various professional organizations and institutions have now proposed that practice care guidelines be implemented for use by those who provide care for patients with chronic pain.”


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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 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.

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