The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a targeted initiative, including educational initiatives for healthcare professionals, to reduce prescription opioid and heroin related overdose, death, and dependence.

HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell outlined the efforts, which will include increasing use of naloxone and expanding the use of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAP) that combined the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. The initiative also plans to expand current HHS strategies with the greatest potential for impact, including assisting healthcare professionals with making informed prescribing decisions. This includes the following:

  • Teaching medical professionals how and when to prescribe opioids by working with lawmakers on bipartisan legislation requiring specific training for safe opioid prescribing and establishing new opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain.
  • Supporting data sharing for safe prescribing by facilitating prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) and health information technology integration and further adoption of electronic prescribing practices.
  • Increasing investments in state-level prevention interventions, including PDMPs, to track opioid prescribing and support appropriate pain management.

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The efforts will be in conjunction with strategic partnerships with state and private industry, as well as bipartisan work across the federal government and Capitol Hill.

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