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Public Policy


What should be the public policy toward the use of opioids/ addiction/ overdoses? Who are the stakeholders? What are they writing? In this section you will learn about the stakeholders and issues related to public policy associated with the opioid epidemic: Content will be in various forms including articles, infographs, interviews, links to other websites, video and other media forms. 

Opioid Addiction, Policy Overview

Rebecca Haffajee

Given what we now know about opioid addiction, policy responses that focus on controlling drug supply and getting addicts into treatment are prudent. Targeting the original source of drugs, or prescribing, is preferable to penalizing downstream effects — many of which seem out of individual's’ control.

These include: prescriber education and guidelines (although broader medical consensus here is long overdue); prescription drug monitoring programs that are used to inform prescribing decisions; “pill mill” crackdowns; and certain insurer or pharmacy-benefit manager mechanisms that monitor opioid prescribing and use (e.g., unsolicited reports sent to prescribers). Unintended consequences of these prescriber-targeted policies must be carefully monitored, however, to ensure that adequate pain management is not compromised for those with a medical need.


The Challenge of Pain Management and Opioid Addiction    Published on Apr 28, 2015

In this Stanford Health Policy Forum, addiction medicine expert Anna Lembke, M.D. and pain medicine expert Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D., debate and discuss how to balance the benefits and costs of prescription opioids.

BOTEC Analysis is a research and consulting firm that develops solutions to issues in public policy, particularly in the areas of crime, justice, and drug policy.



Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Clinton Foundation 

Evidence Based Guidelines  Nov 2015


Prescription drugs are essential to improving the quality of life for millions of Americans living with acute or chronic pain. However, misuse, abuse, addiction, and overdose of these products, especially opioids, have become serious public health problems in the United States. A comprehensive response to this crisis must focus on preventing new cases of opioid addiction, identifying early opioid-addicted individuals, and ensuring access to effective opioid addiction treatment while safely meeting the needs of patients experiencing pain.

Public Health Leaders Urge Far-Reaching Reforms to Curb Prescription Opioid Epidemic   November 16, 2015


A group of experts, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, today issued recommendations aimed at stemming the prescription opioid epidemic, a crisis that kills an average of 44 people a day in the U.S.


The report calls for changes to the way medical students and physicians are trained, prescriptions are dispensed and monitored, first responders are equipped to treat overdoses, and those with addiction are identified and treated. The report grew out of discussions that began last year at a town hall co-hosted by the Bloomberg School and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation. The recommendations were developed by professionals from medicine, pharmacy, injury prevention and law. Patient representatives, insurers and drug manufacturers also participated in developing the recommendations.


Associated Discussion (YouTube): The Prescription Opioid Epidemic: An Evidence-Based Approach


Press Release:  Public Health Leaders Urge Far-Reaching Reforms to Curb Prescription Opioid Epidemic


A Report of the Aspen Health Strategy Group

Foreword by Kathleen Sebelius and Tommy G. Thompson

Edited by Alan R. Weil and Rachel Dolan

IOM Pain Recommandations 

In this report, the IOM offers a blueprint for action in transforming prevention, care, education, and research, with the goal of providing relief for people with pain in America. To reach the vast multitude of people with various types of pain, the nation must adopt a population-level prevention and management strategy. The IOM recommends that HHS develop a comprehensive plan with specific goals, actions, and timeframes.


The National Pain Strategy is Released for Public Comment

Pain is the product of one of the most basic parts of the nervous system. That system is essential in protecting us from injury. However, dysfunction in the system can result in pain that doesn’t remit, has no benefit, is so severe that it impairs normal functioning, and even threatens one’s ability to continue living. As a neurology trainee I took to heart Dr. Marcia Angell’s words: “Few things a doctor does are more important than relieving pain… pain is soul destroying. No patient should have to endure intense pain unnecessarily.” This from a 1982 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine called “The Quality of Mercy”, which stressed the need to treat pain in hospitalized patients with opiates and not over-exaggerate the dangers of narcotics. Though greater attention is now given to treatment of pain in the hospital, the country is faced with an epidemic of out-of-hospital deaths related to prescription opiate overdose. Clearly there is tremendous need for new solutions that treat pain and prevent suffering but are safe. Though secondary to the burden of suffering and major loss of quality of life for millions of people, chronic pain also costs the nation hundreds of billions of dollars each year in medical treatment and lost productivity.



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