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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Dr. Leana Wen Interviewed on Matter of Fact

Dr. Leana Wen was interviewed by Soledad O'Brien on Matter of Fact on Sepember 13, 2017 about the opioid crisis. WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore televised the interview live. You can view it here.

Declare a true state of emergency (The Hill)

Several weeks ago, President Trump stated that the opioid crisis was a “national emergency.” To many of us in public health, it was a confusing statement. Just a few days earlier, the president and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price stated that they would not declare a state of emergency, claiming that emergencies are time-bound and resource-finite situations.

As an emergency physician and Commissioner of Health in Baltimore City — where approximately two people a day die from overdose — I can tell you that is not the case. Addiction is a disease, treatment exists and communities around the country are succeeding in fighting the epidemic.

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Federal funding cut to teen pregnancy prevention programs will hurt Baltimore, health commissioner says (BaltimoreSun)

The Trump administration’s decision to cut short a grant program that would have spent $214 million to support teen pregnancy prevention programs will have far-reaching consequences in cities across the United States, including Baltimore. After the program ends next June, the city will lose the equivalent of $3.5 million in funding for a variety of programs aimed at curtailing unintended teen pregnancies. Another $880,000 grant funds research at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health to evaluate a program to reduce sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy among American Indian teens, City Health Commissioner Leana Wen called the decision shocking and “unprecedented.” “We have not ever received a cut to an existing program without explanation, and when the funds were readily available,” she said.

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