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House bill calls for task force to combat opioid epidemic

May 12, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The U.S. House of Representatives May 11 passed bipartisan legislation that will establish an interagency task force to provide updated guidance for doctors on prescribing opioid painkillers.

The Association considers the task force, which the ADA supported in a similar measure, 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 ADA President Carol Gomez Summerhays and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin in a Feb. 24 letter to the House Judiciary Committee. “As prescribers of these painkilling medications, dentists have a role to play in preventing their diversion, misuse and abuse.”

The bill identifies dentists as one of several health professions that must be consulted.  

“A dental perspective will help clarify the differences between pain management in dentistry and pain management in medicine,” wrote Dr. Summerhays and Dr. O’Loughlin.

In addition to forming the task force, the bill also calls for new guidelines for consumer education programs.

For more information about prescription opioid use in dentistry, visit