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ADA tells Sen. Durbin dentists have improved opioid prescribing record

May 12, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA Thursday challenged a May 11 letter and press release from Sen. Richard Durbin claiming that dentists have not done enough to prevent the widespread abuse of opioid pain medications.

“We disagree with your assertion that the ADA and its members have failed to ‘take responsibility for its role contributing to the opioid and heroin epidemic,’ and that dentists are taking advantage of ‘perceived financial incentives to overtreat pain,’ ” wrote ADA President Carol Gomez Summerhays and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin in a May 12 response.

Drs. Summerhays and O’Loughlin also included a summary of what the Association has been doing to help keep opioid pain medications from being abused.

Between 2010 and 2012, dentists dropped from the third largest to the fifth largest group of opioid prescribing specialties, according to the letter.

“This is a testament to what dentistry has been doing to address this issue,” wrote Drs. Summerhays and O’Loughlin.

“We can all do more to keep prescription pain medications from becoming a source of harm in our communities,” they concluded. “For our part, the ADA will continue raising professional awareness about prescription opioid abuse, encouraging dentists to complete CERP-recognized training in model opioid prescribing, and urging every dentist to register with his or her state prescription drug monitoring program.”

For more information about prescription opioid use in dentistry, visit