Seeking Strategies

Emory expert contributes to report on curbing opioid addiction crisis

Reducing the growing number of deaths related to both prescription opioid overuse and illicit opioid use will take years of sustained and coordinated efforts by physicians, patients, federal and state agencies, and the public, according to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Anesthesiologist Anne Marie McKenzie-Brown, director of the Emory Pain Center, served on the committee charged by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review science on pain research, medical care, and education and identify actions needed to address the opioid crisis. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in the US, and most of those deaths involve an opioid.

Some of the strategies the committee recommended include enhancing education for both health professionals and the general public to improve awareness of the risks and benefits of opioids, FDA review of the safety and effectiveness of all approved opioids, reducing the supply of prescription opioids in the community to help curtail access while determining other pain-reducing options for patients, and providing universal access to evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder by states and federal agencies.

The report shows that more research is needed to better understand the neurobiological interaction between chronic pain and opioid use, and what has driven our society into the opioid epidemic of today.

“We need better tools for identifying those at risk for development of and effective, affordable treatment options for those with opioid use disorder,” says McKenzie-Brown.

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