AMA Group Aims to Reduce Inappropriate Opioid Prescribing

Physicians have a professional obligation to reverse the nation's opioid epidemic. That's the message of the American Medical Association Task Force to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse. The task force focuses on reducing the inappropriate prescribing of opioids and the growing crisis of heroin overdose and death. The task force, chaired by AMA Chair-Elect Patrice A. Harris, MD, includes physician leaders and staff from across the nation. For more information, AMA members can log in and download the Task Force Overview document.

AMA says each of the task force's 25 medical society members recognize physicians must be the ones to develop and implement specific recommendations designed to have a measurable impact on ensuring effective pain management practices and the evidence-based prescribing of opioids. Physicians also have a role in promoting appropriate referrals and access to care for patients with substance use disorders and taking necessary steps needed to reduce opioid-related harm, according to AMA. 

The five goals of the task force are:  

  1. Increase physicians' registration and use of effective prescription drug monitoring programs.
  2. Enhance physicians' education on effective, evidence-based prescribing. 
  3. Reduce the stigma of pain and promote comprehensive assessment and treatment. 
  4. Reduce the stigma of substance use disorder and enhance access to treatment.
  5. Expand access to naloxone in the community and through co-prescribing. 

Expanded access to naloxone, which reverses an overdose, is now available in Texas. The drug can be administered in an emergency department but also prescribed as a take-home medication to be used in emergencies. The new Texas law, strongly supported by TMA, allows doctors to prescribe naloxone directly or by standing order to:  

  • A person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose, and
  • A family member, friend, or other person in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.  

Naloxone can be supplied as an intramuscular injection, intramuscular auto-injector, or intranasal spray. The intranasal formulation is considered off label and is delivered through an atomizer.  

Action, Nov. 16, 2015

Last Updated On

June 17, 2016

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