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August 30, 2016



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Surgeon General Writes to Physicians on Opioid Epidemic

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Surgeon General Writes to Physicians on Opioid Epidemic

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently mailed letters to physicians across the U.S. urging them to address the opioid epidemic. Noting that “we arrived at this place on a path paved with good intentions,” Dr. Murthy wrote that opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled and opioid prescriptions have increased markedly since 1999. However, Dr. Murthy suggested that “as clinicians, we have the unique power to help end this epidemic.”

Indeed, the opioid epidemic has been the subject of much debate in Washington, DC and beyond. During the July 13th National Governors Association (NGA) meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, 46 Governors signed the Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction (read more in Advocacy Now online here). President Obama also recently signed a bill aimed at addressing opioid addiction (read more about the legislative efforts in Advocacy Now online here). Still, the recent action from Dr. Murthy is the first time in history that a surgeon general has sent a letter directly to American physicians.

“First, we will educate ourselves to treat pain safely and effectively,” Dr. Murthy wrote. “A good place to start is this pocket guide with the CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline. Second, we will screen our patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment. Third, we can shape how the rest of the country sees addiction by talking about and treating it as a chronic illness, not a moral failing.”

Murthy, an internal medicine physician, has also asked physicians to visit his site,, and take a pledge.

“Years from now, I want us to look back and know that, in the face of a crisis that threatened our nation, it was our profession that stepped up and led the way,” Dr. Murthy concluded. “I know we can succeed because health care is more than an occupation to us. It is a calling rooted in empathy, science, and service to humanity. These values unite us. They remain our greatest strength.”

For more on AAOS opioid and other FDA efforts, visit the AAOS website here.