National Academy of Medicine

President’s Letter

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The Opioid Epidemic


As more than 90 Americans continue to die every day from opioid overdose – devastating families and communities across the country – there is a clear national consensus that decisive action is needed to aid those suffering from addiction and reverse the trends that led to the current epidemic.

Many important reports and initiatives are being pursued across federal, state, and local governments; industry; law enforcement and justice systems; and nonprofit organizations. These include two publications from the National Academies: Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic: Balancing Societal and Individual Benefits and Risks of Prescription Opioid Use and First Do No Harm: Marshaling Clinician Leadership to Combat the Opioid Epidemic. 

Amid this groundswell of attention and action, what is needed is multilateral coordination and collaboration. As a neutral convener, we believe the National Academy of Medicine can help meet this need. On January 8, we hosted leaders from across sectors to discuss the possibility of creating a joint initiative to share resources and work toward common goals. The group identified five potential focus areas for this work: 1) education and training of care providers; 2) the continuum of care; 3) cultural changes; 4) community implementation; and 5) data and research needs. We are continuing to explore future directions for this initiative, and welcome any comments or questions at Prompt, collective action is the only path to solving this crisis – we need everyone on board.

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