National Academy of Medicine

President’s Letter

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Countering the Opioid Epidemic


Our nation is in the grip of a devastating opioids crisis. Overdose rates are staggering, overwhelming the capacity of first responders and care facilities. So many of our young people are sick or dying, with consequences that will reverberate for generations. Alarmingly, research suggests that the vast majority of opioids addictions originate with a prescription for pain management. That means that the medical profession has an urgent responsibility to do its part to right the course.

The National Academies are responding. Earlier this month, we released Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic, a consensus study that lays out regulatory strategies to counteract opioid overprescription and misuse. We are also hard at work on a fast-track NAM special publication, Marshaling Clinician Leadership to Counter the Opioid Epidemic, in collaboration with the National Governors Association, due out later this summer, that will outline actions for care providers. In addition, at the NAM Annual Meeting on October 16, the President’s Forum will focus on the opioid epidemic and its impact on the health of the next generation. The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius will join us along with Judge Steve Leifman for a robust discussion centered around practical solutions to solve this ongoing crisis in the years ahead. Other invited panelists (to be confirmed) include Dr. Jerome M. Adams, Governor Charlie Baker, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

We won’t stop there. This is a crisis of unprecedented proportions, and we are committed to working with partners at all levels to understand the science of opioid addiction and develop evidence-based solutions.

Warm regards,
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Victor J. Dzau, M.D.
President, National Academy of Medicine