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  • Washington Highlights

    Medical Schools Addressing Opioid Epidemic through Training, Research, and Advances in Clinical Care

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    A total of 69 medical schools signed a statement AAMC released March 29, highlighting how “academic medical centers across the country are actively developing robust curricula to train today’s medical students about the threats posed by prescription drugs.”

    The statement expresses gratitude to the White House and Congress for their attention to the opioid epidemic, and reinforces academic medical centers’ continued commitment to addressing the most pressing health care needs of their communities, such as opioid dependence. It states, “We are unwavering in our commitment to provide robust instruction and training across our programs to ensure that our graduates are equipped to meet these challenges,” while also highlighting the role of research conducted at medical schools and teaching hospitals, and clinical care innovations promoted by such institutions, in responding to crisis.

    On the same day, President Obama participated in a discussion regarding the opioid and heroin epidemic at the annual National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, where he announced additional related public and private sector efforts.

    Among several new actions the administration is taking to combat the opioid and heroin epidemic, such as expanding access to treatment and investing in community policing, the administration announced that 35 AAMC-member medical schools and 26 schools of osteopathic medicine have agreed to “require their students to take some form of prescriber education, in line with the newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids in Chronic Pain” [see Washington Highlights, March 18].

    Furthermore, the Department of Health and Human Services March 30 issued a proposed rule to increase from 100 to 200 patients the patient limit for physicians who prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorders. The AAMC has endorsed legislation introduced by Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (S.1455), which would allow certain medical professionals in qualified settings – including accredited residency and fellowship programs – to request an increased cap or an exemption from the patient cap.