The U.S. should rethink its entire approach to painkillers and the people addicted to them, panel urges (LA Times)

To reverse a still-spiraling American crisis fueled by prescription narcotic drugs, a panel of experts advising the federal government has recommended sweeping changes in the ways that physicians treat pain, their patients cope with pain, and government and private insurers support the care of people living with chronic pain.

In a comprehensive report on what must be done to staunch the toll of opiates in the United States, a panel of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine makes clear that steps needed to prevent the creation of future opiate addicts will drive some people who are now dependent on these medications toward street drugs such as fentanyl and heroin.

“It is therefore ethically imperative to couple a strategy for reducing lawful access to opioids with an investment in treatment for the millions of individuals” already hooked on the painkillers, the panel wrote.

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As a patient advocate and an emergency physician, Dr. Wen has led the Baltimore City Health Department since January 2015. She has devoted her career to expanding access to health care for low income communities, reducing health disparities, and finding innovative solutions to some of the most challenging public health problems today, from opioid abuse and teen pregnancy to the epidemic of gun violence.

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The youngest victims of the opioid epidemic (Axios)

In a video covering the opioid epidemic and highlighting babies born with withdrawal symptoms, Dr. Wen addresses another issue in combatting the crisis.

"When addiction seemed to affect poor people of color in inner cities, it was seen as a moral failing - a choice. Unless we address these deep rooted issues, we’re not going to make progress in treating addiction as the disease that we know it to be."

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It's Time To Go Further to End the Opioid Crisis (The American Prospect)

The rising death toll is a warning that Congress and the White House need to take more decisive action. If they can’t, or won’t, Americans should turn to the courts.

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