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ADA member dentist among authors of national report on opioids epidemic

October 10, 2017

By David Burger


Dr. Moore

An estimated 2.5 million Americans struggle with opioid dependence, according to the National Academy of Medicine.

How can clinicians help counter this epidemic?

The academy has begun to answer that question, having released a special publication in September called “First, Do No Harm: Marshaling Clinician Leadership to Counter the Opioid Epidemic,” with one of the authors being ADA member dentist Dr. Paul Moore, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, dental anesthesiology and dental public health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Moore, who is a member of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, the Council on Dental Practice’s Dental Wellness Advisory Committee and was a recipient of the ADA’s 2013 Norton M. Ross Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, said the ADA and dentists can be advocates for finding solutions to the epidemic.

“The paper is best reported as another example of ADA and the dental profession being proactive and continuing to be part of the solution with emphasis on responsible prescribing and using strategies that decrease or eliminate the need for opioid analgesics,” Dr. Moore said in an ADA News interview.

The 21-page publication, developed at the request of the National Governors Association, is available as a free download at https://nam.edu/first-no-harm-nam-special-publication/.

The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 under the name Institute of Medicine, is a Washington, D.C.-based independent organization of professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine and the natural, social and behavioral sciences. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as adviser to the nation and the international community.

“The group of experts who wrote this publication are key leaders from the nation’s scientific, professional and policy organizations,” said Victor J. Dzau, M.D., president of the National Academy of Medicine, in his organization’s news release. “Clinicians are not expected to make these changes alone. To truly have maximum impact on the heath of their communities, they must work with patients and families, community leaders, elected officials and the business community. All clinicians, regardless of their focus or specialty, must work towards the goal of patient health and well-being.”

The paper is an action guide for clinicians — ranging from dentists and physicians to nurses and social workers — if they are prescribing an opioid or managing a patient who presents with a likely opioid use disorder. It calls for clinicians to prioritize nonopioid strategies when managing chronic pain, follow axioms of responsible opioid prescribing and promote policies that stimulate and support available scientific evidence.

The publication specifically targets dentists as gatekeepers and first responders. Dentists, the publication says, should “emphasize the use of nonopioid analgesics post procedure” as well as “employ all precautionary protocols, such as use of the PDMP (prescription drug monitoring programs), counseling on risks and benefits and assessment of patients for baseline risks of opioids complications such as baseline co-morbid substance use disorders in selection of acute pain management plan.”

Continuing the ADA's commitment to ending the opioid epidemic, Dr. Gary L. Roberts, ADA president, noted President Donald Trump's statement identifying opioid abuse as a national emergency in August. Building upon the recommendations of a July 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.

Since 2010, the ADA Practice Institute’s Center for Dental Practice has offered information on safe and effective opioid prescribing.  For more information about what the ADA is doing to battle the epidemic, visit ADA.org/opioids. Additional online resources are available on the ADA Center for Professional Success at Success.ADA.org.

In 2016 at ADA 2016 – America’s Dental Meeting in Denver, the House of Delegates adopted an updated Statement on the Use of Opioids in the Treatment of Dental Pain. The statement is available at ADA.org/opioids.

“The ADA Practical Guide to Substance Use Disorders and Safe Prescribing,” is also available from the ADA catalog. Readers can save 15 percent on this book and all ADA Catalog products with promo code 17154 until Nov. 17. To order, visit ADAcatalog.org or call 1-800-947-4746.