Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic


The opioid crisis is complex. Together, we can overcome it.

Every day, an estimated 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose – a grim statistic that has devastated families and communities around the nation. Due to the complex and urgent nature of the epidemic, reversing the opioid crisis will require a multi-sectoral and multi-pronged response; no organization, government agency, or sector can solve this crisis on its own.

To improve coordination and accelerate the pace of change, the National Academy of Medicine has partnered with the Aspen Institute and more than 60 participants across the different sectors to form the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic, representing critical stakeholder organizations across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The Action Collaborative is committed to developing, curating, and disseminating multi-sector solutions designed to reduce opioid misuse and improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities affected by the opioid crisis. 

The Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic is committed to supporting the health and well-being of individuals with substance use disorders and who experience pain during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has compiled a list of resources that may assist during this challenging time.

Review the resources>>

About the Action Collaborative

The Action Collaborative conducts its work around four core priority areas: Health Professional Education and Training; Pain Management Guidelines and Evidence Standards; Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services; and Research, Data, and Metrics Needs.

The Action Collaborative produces discussion papers to advance the field and accelerate action where the evidence dictates; conducts outreach; and leads convenings, webinars, and other special events to accelerate the translation of the most promising opportunities to reverse the opioid crisis. 

Questions? Contact us at

Download our two-pager to share>>

Action Collaborative Leadership

Victor Dzau, Chair
ADM Brett Giroir, Co-Chair
Ruth Katz, Co-Chair
Jonathan Perlin, Co-Chair

Action Collaborative Working Groups

Click here to view members of our four working groups. 

Action Collaborative Staff

Elizabeth Finkelman, Director
Aisha Salman, Associate Program Officer
Jarrett Nguyen, Program Specialist
Jenna Ogilvie, Deputy Director, Communications
Olivia Ramirez, Communications Officer

May 21 Virtual Symposium



The Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic will host a free virtual symposium on May 21 from 8:30am – 5:00pm ET. During the virtual symposium, Action Collaborative members and invited expert speakers will address the most promising opportunities to achieve a health system that is better prepared to prevent, treat, and manage substance use disorders. 


Register to attend the symposium>>

Supporting People with Addiction During COVID-19

A new webinar series from the NAM and the American Society of Addiction Medicine will provide insight and targeted guidance on how to ensure that individuals with addiction are cared for and protected during the ongoing public health crisis. 

Podcast Featuring Action Collaborative Co-chairs


In this episode of Advancing Health, a podcast series from the American Hospital Association, Jay Bhatt, former senior vice president and chief medical officer of the AHA and co-lead of the Action Collaborative’s Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Working Group; Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine and Action Collaborative Co-Chair; and Ruth Katz, vice president and executive director of the Health, Medicine, and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, and Action Collaborative Co-Chair discuss how they have brought together stakeholders and leaders to address the U.S. opioid epidemic in an innovative and comprehensive way. Listen on the player above, or access the Soundcloud by clicking here.

New Discussion Paper from the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic

Publication Summary

Though medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) are effective and approved by the FDA, almost four in five Americans with opioid use disorder (OUD) do not receive treatment with these medications. The gap in access to evidence-based care, including treatment with these medications, stems in part from barriers to change within the health care system. An individually authored discussion paper by members of the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic identifies nine key barriers to access, use, and delivery of evidence-based treatment and focuses on strategies that can be employed by providers, researchers, payers, institutions, educational and accrediting bodies, and regulators to overcome barriers and move toward a more functional treatment system for all. The barriers are divided into five categories: provider barriers, institutional barriers, regulatory barriers, financial barriers, and barriers to engagement within the treatment system.

The paper’s authors present 25 potential strategies to address these barriers. Some are achievable immediately, and some will need to be executed over a longer term. All the strategies work toward the end goal of improving access to evidence-based medical treatment and better care for those with OUD.

Exploring the Importance of Pharmacies to Public Health

It has become even more clear, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that pharmacies are essential. Dima Qato, the NAM Fellow in Pharmacy who spends a portion of her fellowship supporting the work of the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic, and her knowledge of pharmacy access are being utilized in the national response to COVID-19. Read more>>


  • Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
  • Aetna
  • American Hospital Association
  • American Medical Association
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
  • Arnold Ventures
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • CDC Foundation
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  • Council of Medical Specialty Societies
  • Federation of State Medical Boards
  • HCA Healthcare
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

NAM Member Spotlight

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the NAM/IOM in 2020, we are pleased to highlight NAM members who have contributed significantly to advancing our understanding of and the responsible treatment of substance use disorders and mental health disorders. 

Join Our Community

Sign up for NAM email updates