Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, Chair of AMA Opioid Task Force and Immediate Past Chair of the AMA said, "The American Medical Association (AMA) commends the Trump Administration for declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, a move that will offer needed flexibility and help direct attention to opioid-ravaged communities.
"This alone won't solve a complicated problem. Ending the epidemic will require physicians, insurers, drug manufacturers, and the government to follow through with resources, evidence-based treatment plans and smart public policies at the national and state levels.
"As physicians, we must be leaders in continuing to make judicious prescribing decisions, and by considering the full range of effective therapies for pain, including non-opioid and non-pharmacologic options, co-prescribing naloxone, helping patients access medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and removing stigma.
"At the same time, insurers must be willing to cover pain treatments beyond opioid analgesics as well as long-term comprehensive treatment for opioid use disorder to promote recovery.
"The number of prescription opioids in the country is declining while the numbers of people dying from heroin and illicit fentanyl are increasing at a staggering rate. As it stands, it's easier for patients to access heroin than to access evidence-based treatment and non-opioid pain care.
"There is plenty of work ahead, and the emergency declaration adds further urgency to this epidemic."