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ADA joins AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse

August 06, 2015

By Kelly Soderlund

Dr. Feinberg
The ADA has joined the American Medical Association Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, and its first initiative is to urge health care professionals to register for and use state-based prescription drug monitoring programs.

The task force is comprised of 27 physician organizations, 17 specialty and seven medical societies that are committed to identifying and implementing the best practices to combat this public health crisis. The task force believes that when prescription drug monitoring programs are fully funded, contain relevant clinical information and are available at the point of care, they have been shown to be an effective tool to help health care providers identify patients who may be misusing opioids.

More than 16,000 Americans died in 2013 from an overdose related to opioids; more than 8,000 died from one related to heroin; and nearly 44,000 died as a result of an overdose involving a prescription drug, according to the task force.

"As health care professionals, we're on the front lines of this issue and see how it causes devastating destruction for every life that it touches," said ADA President Maxine Feinberg. "Together, we can harness the collective power of preventative education and intervention to help reverse this epidemic. The ADA stands firmly behind this task force."

"We have joined together as part of this special task force because we collectively believe that it is our responsibility to work together to provider a clear road map that will help bring an end to this public health epidemic," said AMA board chair-elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D. "We are committed to working long term on a multi-pronged, comprehensive public health approach to end opioid abuse in America."

The new initiative will seek to enhance health care providers' education on safe, effective and evidence-based prescribing. This includes a new Web page with information on prescription drug monitoring programs and their effectiveness; and a national marketing campaign to raise awareness of the steps health care providers can take to combat the opioid abuse epidemic and ensure they are aware of all the options available to them for appropriate prescribing.

"America's patients who live with acute and chronic pain deserve compassionate, high-quality and personalized care and we will do everything we can to create a health care response that ensures they live longer, fuller and productive lives."

The task force encourages health care providers to review the prescription drug monitoring program in their state to see if it provides real-time information about a patient's prescription history; has patient prescription history from other states; and allows the physician to create alerts when a patient reaches certain thresholds for prescriptions, dosage or quantity.  

The ADA has stressed the importance of using prescription drug monitoring programs to its member dentists and since 2011, the ADA Council on Dental Practice, along with several other partner organizations including the AMA, have participated in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Providers' Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies grant, the purpose of which is to educate health professionals on opioid prescribing and abuse prevention.

The ADA Practical Guide to Substance Use Disorders and Safe Prescribing (P035) can help dentists and dental team members detect substance abuse problems and drug-seeking patients. It's available at adacatalog.org and is $59.95 for members and retails for $89.95.  

More resources on prescription drug abuse and substance abuse disorders in the dental practice are available on ADA.org.