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  • Washington Highlights

    White House Drug Commission Draft Interim Report Offers Recommendations to Address Opioid Epidemic

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

    The president’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, established by President Trump through a March 29 Executive Order (EO), released an interim report that includes policy recommendations for addressing the opioid epidemic.

    As stated in the EO, the mission of the commission is to study the scope and effectiveness of the federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and to make recommendations to the president for improving the federal response [see Washington Highlights, March 31].

    Among the recommendations for action, the commission urges the president to declare a national emergency to empower the president’s cabinet to “take bold steps” and “force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch.”

    The commission also suggests that the president “mandate prescriber education initiatives with the assistance of medical and dental schools across the country to enhance prevention efforts.” Specifically, the report recommends that the president “mandate medical education in opioid prescribing and risks of developing a [substance use disorder] by amending the Controlled Substances Act to require all Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrants to take a course in proper treatment of pain.” The commission suggests that overprescribing is “due to a lack of education … in our nation’s medical and dental schools and a dearth of continuing medical education for practicing clinicians.”

    Additional recommendations from the commission include:

    • Increasing treatment capacity nationwide;
    • Promoting Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), including through partnerships between the National Institutes of Health and industry to facilitate testing and development of new MAT treatments;
    • Providing model legislation to states to increase the availability and use of naloxone;
    • Prioritizing the federal response to fentanyl;
    • Increasing federal support for state prescription drug monitoring programs;
    • Aligning patient privacy laws to ensure that medical professionals can access information about patients’ substance use disorders when prescribing pain medication; and
    • Enforcing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

    The interim report noted that additional recommendations will be included in final report, along with more information on topics such as development of a national prevention strategy, identifying workforce access and training needs, applying evidence-based principles to improve treatment programs, research initiatives to combat the epidemic, and use of data collection and analysis to determine effective prevention and treatment strategies.

    The final report is scheduled for release later this fall.