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ADA asks lawmakers to help combat prescription opioid abuse

February 29, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — As part of its efforts to reduce prescription opioid abuse, the Association is urging lawmakers to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016.

The bill, S. 524 in the Senate and H.R. 953 in the House, calls for establishing a federal task force to develop best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.

In a Feb. 24 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), ADA President Carol Gomez Summerhays and Executive Director Kathleen T. O'Loughlin explained how the legislation is an important step towards curbing the rates of addiction, overdoses and deaths associated with prescription opioid abuse.

"Opioid pain medications, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, have become a leading source of drug abuse among teens and young adults," wrote Drs. Summerhays and O'Loughlin. "As prescribers of these painkilling medications, dentists have a role to play in preventing their diversion, misuse and abuse."

If passed, the bill would also increase funding to expand the use of disposal sites for unused prescription medications.

"The ADA has been a proponent of the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back campaign since 2012," wrote Drs. Summerhays and O'Loughlin. "The campaign is a way for our members to identify their community's prescription drug disposal sites and how to counsel patients about the need to dispose of prescription medications responsibly.

In addition to helping dental offices in developing best practices, the bill would help communities develop support services in their communities and provide funds to improve the design and operation of prescription drug monitoring programs.

"The campaign is a way for our members to identify their community's substance abuse treatment resources and learn how to make referrals when indicated. It is also a way to help dentists in recovery live longer, happier, and healthier lives," wrote Drs. Summerhays and O'Loughlin.

The letter was also sent to the House Judiciary, Education & the Workforce, and Energy and Commerce Committees.

For more information about prescription opioid use in dentistry, visit