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Making Amends for the Opioid Epidemic

With the opioid epidemic now claiming nearly 2000 lives from overdose in the United States each month, the medical profession is increasingly accepting the assessment of noted surgeon and writer Atul Gawande, MD: “We started it.” Specialty societies such as the American Academy of Family Physicians and American College of Physicians are offering tools to reduce the unnecessary use of opioids for pain and the risk of addiction. The Federation of State Medical Boards has released guidelines for the treatment of chronic pain, and many state medical boards have adopted their own policies. Physicians are responding. Since peaking in 2012, opioid prescriptions have declined by more than one-fourth.

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