Rx Drug Abuse Summit Maps Solutions for 'Community Problem'

Dr. Patrice Harris, chair-elect of the American Medical Association and chair of its Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, said progress is being made: From 2014 to 2015, opioid prescriptions decreased 6.8 percent nationally, following a 2.9 percent decline the year before.

A who's who of Obama administration officials and congressional leaders spoke at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, which took place March 28-31 in Atlanta. Presenters and speakers included President Obama; Chuck Rosenberg, acting DEA administrator; Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; Kana Enomoto, SAMHSA's principal deputy administrator; Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy; and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Dr. Patrice Harris, chair-elect of the American Medical Association and chair of its Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, also spoke, detailing how AMA and individual physicians are working to reduce and prevent deaths from opioid overdoses. "The AMA's vision for ending this epidemic starts with a focus on what physicians can do in their practices and in their communities. We not only must take responsibility for ending this epidemic, we must take action to do so," she said.

Harris, a psychiatrist, said the nation's physicians are focused on safe opioid prescribing and are prescribing naloxone, a drug that can prevent opioid overdose deaths, to at-risk patients, as well as registering with and using their state prescription drug monitoring programs.

She also said from 2014 to 2015, opioid prescriptions decreased 6.8 percent nationally, following a 2.9 percent decline the year before, citing data from IMS Health.

DEA is sponsoring another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 30. "We're not going to prosecute, enforce, or jail our way out of this mess," Rosenberg said at the summit. "We must attack the supply side and double/triple/quadruple our efforts on the demand side. It's a community problem requiring a community solution."

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