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ADA lauds President Trump's statement on opioid abuse as national emergency

August 15, 2017

By David Burger

Washington — Continuing the ADA's commitment to ending the opioid epidemic, Dr. Gary L. Roberts, ADA president, applauded President Donald Trump's statement identifying opioid abuse as a national emergency Aug. 10.

"The misuse and abuse of opioids is a tragedy," said Dr. Roberts. "As prescribers of opioid pain medications, dentists can help keep these drugs from becoming a source of harm, and the American Dental Association is absolutely committed to continuing to educate dentists about safely prescribing opioid pain medications, to know when non-opioid alternatives are appropriate and to identify at-risk patients. Working together with our fellow health organizations and the administration, we will do everything we can to help end this national emergency."

Building upon the recommendations in a July 31 interim report from the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, President Trump instructed his administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic.

"The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I'm saying officially right now: It is an emergency," Trump said at a press briefing Aug. 10.

In the interim report by the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, the commission reported that between 1999 and 2015, more than 560,000 Americans died due from drug overdoses. In 2015, nearly two-thirds of drug overdoses were linked to opioids like Percocet, OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl.

"Since 1999, the number of opioid overdoses in America have quadrupled, according to the CDC," the commission reported. "Not coincidentally, in that same period, the amount of prescription opioids in America have quadrupled as well."

The report cites an overdose rate of 142 people a day.

Last summer then-ADA president Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays sent a "Dear Colleagues" letter urging dentists everywhere to take several specific actions to prevent opioid abuse by their patients.

"Patients have a responsibility to use opioid painkillers only as prescribed and to keep their unused medications from getting into the wrong hands," Dr. Summerhays wrote. "We can empower them by being more judicious in our prescribing when less aggressive treatments are indicated. We can also make sure patients leave our offices knowing about their abuse potential and how to safely secure, monitor and discard them at home."

In the coming days, according to an ADA news release, the ADA will be asking the president's commission to consider two issues that have long been of concern. One concerns the nuances of managing short-term acute pain versus long-term chronic pain. The other is to avoid duplicating or undermining what states have been doing on this issue for years.

The ADA has produced a series of webinars, hosted by various speakers, in which dentists can learn about ways they can reduce opioid abuse, educate patients about the addictive qualities of painkillers and prevent prescription opioid diversion.

These webinars have been recorded and are available on the ADA Center for Professional Success website at Success.ADA.org:

In addition to these webinars, there are two FAQs on hydrocodone combination products regulations.

Find out more at ADA.org/opioids.