In March, President Trump established the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which is led by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). The group was charged with studying “ways to combat and treat the scourge of drug abuse, addiction and the opioid crisis.” On July 31, the Opioid Commission released a preliminary report that includes policy recommendations for addressing the opioid epidemic.
Among the recommendations for action, the commission urged the President to declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act. By doing so, the Administration would be able to bypass barriers and waive some federal rules, such as one that restricts where Medicaid recipients can receive addiction treatment. It would also put pressure on Congress to provide more funding.
The commission also suggested that the President “mandate prescriber education initiatives with the assistance of medical and dental schools across the country to enhance prevention efforts.” Specifically, the report recommends that the president “mandate medical education in opioid prescribing and risks of developing a [substance use disorder] by amending the Controlled Substances Act to require all Drug Enforcement Administration registrants to take a course in proper treatment of pain.” The commission suggested that overprescribing is “due to a lack of education … in our nation’s medical and dental schools and a dearth of continuing medical education for practicing clinicians.”
The interim report noted that additional recommendations will be included in a final report to be issued this fall, along with more information on topics such as development of a national prevention strategy, identifying workforce access and training needs, applying evidence-based principles to improve treatment programs, research initiatives to combat the epidemic, and use of data collection and analysis to determine effective prevention and treatment strategies.
Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD will closely monitor the commission’s findings and recommendations to curb opioid abuse as well as seek ways to engage stakeholders on policy proposals that discourage misuse, without undermining patient care.