Letter: Medical community is taking on opioid crisis

Posted
Medical community is taking on opioid crisis

To the editor:

Contrary to the statements of Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless ("Berkshire DA praises opioid bill," Eagle, Nov. 6), the medical community has not been reluctant to accept its shared responsibility in creating the opioid crisis, is not guilty of a lack of action, nor are physicians "assigning blame for the woes of addiction on their patients."

Physicians recognize all too well the severity of this public health crisis and the role prescribing has played in it, and have taken many steps to reduce the abuse. We have been working with Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey, Secretary Sudders, and Public Health Commissioner Bharel for months in developing strategies and responses and have called for every physician to rethink their prescribing practices with the goal of reducing the number of opioids prescribed.

We have issued new prescribing guidelines, are offering free courses in opioid prescribing and pain management for all prescribers, have created a dedicated website and public service campaigns for patients, and have worked for several years to improve the state's Prescription Monitoring Program. We are also working with the deans of the state's four medical schools to improve education on opioids and pain management for medical students.

The idea that physicians are lax or hindering progress toward solutions is simply wrong. Physicians may be an easy target because we do the prescribing, but we have made a commitment to be part of the solution. We will continue to work with government and public health officials, others in the medical community, and, most of all, our patients, to attack this crisis.

Dennis M. Dimitri, M.D. Waltham, Ma. The writer is president, Massachusetts Medical Society.


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