As political pressure mounts to curb prescription drug costs, President Barack Obama has unveiled an initiative to address a different high-profile drug problem—the growing toll of addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin.
Speaking last week in Charleston, W.Va., which has been hard-hit by the heroin epidemic, Obama announced a new federal initiative to train physicians who prescribe opioid pain medications and promote the use of medication-assisted therapy for treating addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin. He wants to expand access to medicines such as buprenorphine that treat opioid addiction and naloxone, which can reverse an overdose.
He has instructed all federally employed healthcare providers who prescribe controlled medications to receive training that addresses best prescribing practices, pain management principles and information on misuse.
Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America, said the number of federal healthcare providers is large enough that the training mandate could mark an overall change in behavior and practices across the country.