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AMA task force recommendations aimed at solving nation’s drug-related overdose, death epidemic

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Photo: Moussa81/iStockphoto

Elk Grove Village, IL — The American Medical Association, along with more than two dozen other organizations, has issued a list of recommendations to help end the nation’s epidemic of drug-related overdose and death.

The five recommendations were created by the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force, which comprises national, specialty and state medical societies. They focus on actions that physicians, policymakers and public health officials can take to enhance opioid prescribing practices; help prevent opioid use disorder; and provide evidence-based, compassionate care for patients in pain.

Highlights include:

  • Support patients with pain, mental illness or a substance use disorder by building an evidence-based, sustainable and resilient infrastructure and health care workforce, rather than continuing the current crisis-driven approach.
  • Remove barriers to evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders, co-occurring mental illness and pain, including improved enforcement of laws and policies that ensure access to medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder.
  • Support coverage for, access to and payment of comprehensive, multidisciplinary, multimodal and evidence-based treatment for patients with pain, mental illness or a substance use disorder.
  • Broaden public health and harm-reduction strategies to save lives from overdose, limit the spread of infectious disease, eliminate stigma and reduce harms for people who use drugs or other substances.
  • Improve stakeholder and multisector collaboration to ensure patients, policymakers, employers and communities benefit from evidence-based decisions.

“The nation’s physicians must continue to lead by example to help our patients with pain, SUDs and mental illness,” physician and task force Chair Bobby Mukkamala said in a press release. “But removing barriers requires more stakeholders to join us.”

Mukkamala adds that the task force has the opportunity to reduce mortality and improve patient outcomes, but policymakers who fail to adopt the recommendations will prolong the epidemic and extend the suffering of patients.

Other task force member organizations include the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, American Academy of Pain Medicine, and American Psychiatric Association.

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