The American Medical Association (AMA) convened more than 25 national, specialty and state medical societies in two task force efforts between 2014-2019 urging physicians to take action to improve opioid prescribing practices, help prevent opioid use disorder, provide evidence-based, compassionate care for patients in pain, become trained to better identify and treat opioid use disorder (OUD), prescribe naloxone to mitigate the risk of an opioid-related overdose to a patient (or for a family member or friend at risk of an opioid-related overdose), and take other actions to improve patient outcomes and reduce stigma for patients with pain and those with an OUD.
Both AMA task forces, the Opioid Task Force and Pain Care Task Force, have worked to provide actionable and measurable recommendations and principles for physicians, state and federal policymakers, and other stakeholders. In response to those recommendations, there has been measurable progress across multiple domains, policy changes led by medical society advocacy, and yet, the nation’s drug-related overdose and death epidemic has become worse. As a result, the AMA has united the two task forces into a new effort to directly address the changing drug overdose epidemic, focus on removing racial, gender, sexual orientation and other health-related inequities, and provide updated recommendations to physicians, policymakers and other stakeholders.
Physicians must continue to lead, and policymakers must base further action on evidence-based interventions. The Task Force’s five recommendations build on previous work.