Commission Report Urges FDA To Develop Opioid Prescriber Training Standards

Saul Bowman
August 2, 2017

The report was released in accordance with an executive order signed in March by Donald Trump to "study ways to combat and treat the scourge of drug abuse, addiction and the opioid crisis".

He's now being urged to declare a nation-wide "state of emergency" over the issue by a White House commission, as part of a wide-ranging list of recommendations which also encourages easier access to heroin antidotes and mental health treatment.

The report is "meant to give the president some immediate steps that he can take to try to make sure that we stop the death that is happening across the country", said Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was appointed by Trump to lead the group. In 2015 alone, opioids like heroin, fentanyl and morphine killed over 33,000 Americans.

"With approximately 142 Americans dying [of drug overdose] every day", the report notes, "America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks".

The report called the crisis "unparalleled".

In addition to seeking an emergency declaration, the commission proposed waiving a federal rule that sharply limits the number of Medicaid recipients who can receive residential addiction treatment.

"This is the single fastest way to increase treatment availability across the nation", the commission's draft interim report said. The panel is led by Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Under current "well-intentioned" patient privacy laws, the commission said physicians and families alike face great difficulty in coordinating care or even knowing if an individual is struggling with substance use disorders, "restraining physicians' ability to make informed healthcare decisions", the report said. The commission is also calling for a ramp up in detection efforts through the mail by the United States Postal Service.

By next year, the President's Commission hopes to create a monitoring system that oversees the issuing of prescription drugs nationwide.

Increase enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which protects patients with substance abuse disorders or mental health issues from receiving inferior health benefits from their insurance provider in comparison to a patient suffering from a physical condition.

Their report is being prepared independently of the US Government's Office of National Drug Control Policy, although the agency did submit a list of policy recommendations to the commission. Mandate medical education training in opioid prescribing and risks of developing an SUD by amending the Controlled Substance Act to require all Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrants to take a course in proper treatment of pain.

"We should be tracking those supplies in the same way we track infectious diseases in our country". The commission is still slated to release a final plan to Trump on October 1.

Despite vowing to combat opioid abuse in the U.S., Trump has been advocating an Obamacare replacement plan that slashed Medicaid funding by $772 billion over a decade.

"We said we need time to go through this, and the president's senior staff agreed", Christie said of the delays. Numerous recommendations mirror efforts that he has undertaken in New Jersey.

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