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Invited Commentary
June 17, 2020

Slowing the Opioid Epidemic by Controlling a Source: Disabling the Pump

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Chicago, Illinois
  • 3Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC
JAMA Cardiol. Published online June 17, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.1468

With a record 63 632 drug overdose deaths in 2016, Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan declared a nationwide public health emergency.1 Prescribed opioids play an important role in fueling this devastating epidemic. Between 1991 and 2011, opioid prescriptions nearly tripled to 219 million, with a parallel rise in opioid-related deaths. In 2017, 17.4% of the US population received 1 or more opioid prescriptions; of them, the average person received 3.4.1 Despite such extensive prescribing, most physicians have historically received little training either in pain management or in assessing or managing substance use disorders.