- President Obama is calling for new pain management strategies and increased funding for rural drug and mental health treatment services to help stem the current opioid misuse epidemic.
- Speaking at a Monday White House Roundtable, Obama said any strategy also requires improving access to primary care in rural areas.
- The president refused, however, to support a plan by the nation’s governors to cap the number of opioid painkillers doctors could prescribe simultaneously for a patient.
During the roundtable, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) described steps the state has taken to address the crisis, including adding 1,000 new inpatient beds to treat addiction, urging law enforcement officers to try and get opioid overdose victims to admit themselves for treatment and supplying first responders with the opioid antidote naloxone, according to ct mirror.
Baker also has approved a bill that would all prospective doctors and dentists to take a course in pain medication management.
In another effort to combat the crisis, 17 states and 13 cities have petitioned the FDA to add black box warnings to the labels of prescription opioids and benzodiazepines, which can cause respiratory arrest when combined. The proposed warning wouldn’t bar doctors from prescribing them together, but would increase awareness about the potential dangers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses killed more than 47,000 people in the U.S. in 2014, 61% as a result of prescription opioids or heroin.