OMA Hosts Conference on Tackling Opioid Abuse on October 3

Leaders from around Oregon join together to share solutions to a deadly problem

October 2, 2012 -- Oregon has the fifth-highest rate of opioid medication abuse in the nation. In 2009, drug overdose deaths exceeded motor vehicle collisions as the leading cause of accidental death for the first time.

Physicians have an obligation to manage their patients’ pain, but also to help avert the redirection and abuse of these very powerful therapies.

With the recent announcement that the National Governor’s Association selected Oregon as one of five states to participate in a prescription-drug abuse reduction initiative between September 2012 and April 2013, this conference is even more timely.

Jim Shames, MD, will share the experience of Jackson and Josephine counties in creating community guidelines for opioid prescribing. His work in convening stakeholders to come up with a local solution to this problem was key in Shames’ receipt of the 2012 OMA Doctor-Citizen of the Year Award.

The conference also will feature speakers from University of Washington Seattle Medical School will discuss best practices in pain management with attendees, a representative from the US Drug Enforcement Agency will talk about regulations and trends and the program coordinator from Oregon’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program will talk about the program nearing the end of its first year, and OMA’s general counsel will give a talk on HIPAA and other legal issues related to managing patients who take these medications, including an initiative launched by the Oregon College of Emergency

Physicians and supported by the OMA and other groups to create informational materials to be posted in emergency departments around the state. She will also give an update on Oregon initiatives related to this issue.

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It would be so wonderful if the very companies who are cranking out these addictive substances also supported the rehabilitation stays of folks who need treatment to come off of them. The irony is that on one hand you have the expensive problems that cause opioids to be prescribed and on the other hand you the behavioral industry, in the billions of dollars, that is dedicated to cleaning people up. We could tax certain drugs, commensurate with a significant portion of the cost of bringing someone back to being a contributor to a community.