Clinicians: Take the Surgeon General's Pledge to End the Opioid Crisis

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You can join the movement at http://turnthetiderx.org/join/.
You can join the movement at http://turnthetiderx.org/join/.

In the wake of the opioid epidemic crisis which has overcome the United States in recent years, the Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, MD, launched earlier this month a website dubbed TurnTheTide, in a “call to end the opioid crisis.”

Dr Murthy announced this initiative on social media, with a video in which he demonstrates administration of intranasal and injectable formulations of naloxone for unresponsive opioid users. Reactions to the Surgeon General's call can be followed with the hashtag #TurnTheTide.

This measure by Dr Murthy echoes efforts by the federal government to fight the opioid epidemic, with the Comprehensive Recovery and Addiction Act CARA, which was passed by both Houses and signed by President Obama last month, turning it into a law, and the release last March by the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, of the National Pain Strategy, “the first coordinated plan for reducing the burden of chronic pain that affects millions of Americans.” 1,2


The TurnTheTide website hosts a call to healthcare professionals to join the movement and take the pledge to end the crisis through self-education on safe and effective pain management, identification of patients with an opioid disorder, and their treatment as individuals with a chronic illness, not “a moral failing.”

A week following the launching of the site, under 2,000 professionals have taken the pledge –you can join the movement here. “We, as clinicians, are uniquely positioned to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic,” states Dr Murphy.

In an infographic based on data gathered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the scale of the opioid epidemic is highlighted on the website: over 249,000,000 opioid prescriptions in 2013, “enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of pills,” a 300% increase in opioid sales since 1999-not matching the effect on pain relief-and 25% of Americans chronically treated with opioids.

The website also provides a “pain treatment toolbox,” as a way to guide clinicians on opioid prescription, with supporting resources, including a checklist and “pocket card” for opioid prescription to manage chronic pain.

In addition, the website provides recommendations for opioid dosages, as well as tools to assess patients treated with opioids. Resources for patients are also offered, with facts on opioids, information on opioid-related risks for addiction and overdose, as well as recommendations for those initiating an opioid regimen.

For more information, and to join the call, consult http://turnthetiderx.org/.

References

  1. Text of the Comprehensive Recovery and Addiction Act. Available at: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s524/text. Accessed August 15, 2016.
  2. The National Pain Strategy. Available at: https://iprcc.nih.gov/docs/DraftHHSNationalPainStrategy.pdf. Accessed August 15, 2016.
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