The GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences Joins the Fight against the Opioid Epidemic
In October 2017, the opioid epidemic in the United States was declared a national public health emergency. Due to the complexities of the crisis and the cross-cutting strategies necessary to resolve them, reversing the rates of opioid misuse has thus far been slow. In recognition of the need for a national coordinated effort and response to the opioid epidemic, the National Academy of Medicine, in partnership with the Aspen Institute, has called on more than 35 organizations to band together to form the National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Crisis — the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) is one of those organizations.
This one-of-a-kind public-private partnership brings together entities from government, communities, health systems, provider groups, payers, industry, nonprofits, academia, and more. All members of the collaborative are committed to sharing knowledge, aligning ongoing initiatives, and addressing the complex challenges that require multisector solutions in order to improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities affected by the opioid crisis. This partnership will allow for coordination across sectors to drive collective solutions.
Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, vice president for health affairs, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and dean of SMHS, attended the collaborative’s inaugural planning meeting on July 27 to offer GW SMHS’ commitment to reversing the rates of opioid misuse and involvement in mapping a planned action around shared priorities.
“Clinicians, researchers, and educators play a critically important role in finding a solution to this national epidemic. GW SMHS is committed to ending this crisis through targeted research and increased education and training around the fundamentals and clinical standards for recognition of pain, standards of practice for pain control, and addiction medicine,” said Akman.
Since 1999, the number of opioid-related deaths, from both prescription and illegally obtained drugs, has quadrupled. Largely driven by the opioid epidemic, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., resulting in 170 deaths each day. The President’s Council of Economic Advisers reported that opioid crisis cost $504 billion in 2015 — 2.8 percent of gross domestic product.
The collaborative will focus on numerous drivers of the epidemic such as the over-prescription of opioids for pain treatment, inadequate health provider education and training, and under-treatment of opioid use disorders. Members of the collaborative will establish goals and working groups to develop strategies in priority areas identified in the July meeting including education and training, prescription guidelines and evidence standards, treatment and community approaches, communication and culture, and research.
The National Academy of Medicine is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health, medicine, and beyond. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the national and international communities. Through its initiatives, the National Academy of Medicine works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy and inspire action across sectors.
For more information about the National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Crisis and to see a complete list of participating institutions, visit nam.edu/programs/action-collaborative-on-countering-the-u-s-opioid-epidemic/.