President’s Opioid Commission releases recommendations

One week ago, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency. Yesterday, his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released a report outlining a series of recommendations to prevent opioid addiction, reduce the supply of opioids, and boost research and development in new treatment and intervention methods.

The list of 56 recommendations included these key highlights:

Education/Outreach:

“The Commission recommends the Administration fund and collaborate with private sector and non-profit partners to design and implement a wide-reaching, national multi-platform media campaign addressing the hazards of substance use, the danger of opioids, and stigma. A similar mass media/educational campaign was launched during the AIDs public health crisis.”


 Prescribing Guidelines/Regulations:

The commission recommends improving informed consent policies, creating national guidelines for prescribing prescription pain medication, requiring prescribers to undergo continuous education, and supporting Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP). They asked that the Administration mandate that all states receiving grant money comply with PDMP requirements, such as data-sharing.

“The Commission recommends that PDMP data integration with electronic health records, overdose episodes, and SUD-related decision support tools for providers is necessary to increase effectiveness.”

In addition, they also ask for an increase in electronic prescribing records to prevent forgeries.

 Data Collection:

“The Commission recommends a federal effort to strengthen data collection activities enabling real-time surveillance of the opioid crisis at the national, state, local, and tribal levels.”

To further improve data collection, the commission calls for the development of rigorous forensic and toxicology methods to investigate drug-related deaths.

“We do not have sufficiently accurate and systematic data from medical examiners around the country to determine overdose deaths, both in their cause and the actual number of deaths.”


 Law Enforcement:

The report mentions bolstering federal law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to better detect drugs and target Drug Trafficking Organizations while also calling for an enhancement of federal sentencing penalties for fentanyl trafficking.

 Addiction Treatment and Overdoes Reversal:

The commission recommends health care providers provide substance abuse disorder screenings, expand the use of recovery coaches, and that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration create regulatory changes to allow EMTs to administer naloxone.

“The Commission recommends the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) prioritize addiction treatment knowledge across all health disciplines. Adequate resources are needed to recruit and increase the number of addiction-trained psychiatrists and other physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, physician assistants, and community health workers and facilitate deployment in needed regions and facilities.”


 Research and Development:

The list of recommendations ends with a call for better research and development in understanding pain management and addiction. They ask Congress and the federal government to provide resources to several institutes to look into medication-assisted addiction treatments such as detoxification drugs and opioid vaccines.