Working together to address opioid epidemic for patients

Friday, September 01, 2017 12:05 PM
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by Katie Lozano, MD, FACR, President, Colorado Medical Society

As physicians, we have a moral imperative to our patients to collaborate with our colleagues, medical societies, elected officials and other stakeholders to address the public health crisis caused by opioid misuse and abuse. Part of our action as individual physicians involves committing to continuous provider education on best practices in prescribing for pain management, ways to help our patients who are addicted to pain medications or other substances, and best practices for finding other ways to treat pain. Throughout this special issue of Colorado Medicine – and especially in the cover story on page 8 – we hope you’ll find effective ways to help you consider and reconsider your approach to opioids and pain management for patients, and realize how that will continue to evolve in your practice to help your patients.

Active partnership between CMS, all component societies of CMS, and the state specialty societies is critical to develop a medical consensus on solutions that will help guide public policy discussions on the opioid epidemic toward patient-centered, real-world applications. Read more about how CMS has been fully committed to addressing this epidemic over the past four and a half years in the Executive Office Update on page 7.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a tremendous asset we have in our state: the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, a statewide voluntary collaborative organization that brings together our best and brightest to maximize our efforts on this issue. Read more about the consortium on page 34.

We are also fortunate to have the leadership of the executive branch and General Assembly. Gov. John Hickenlooper, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and key legislators – through an interim workgroup established by the 2017 General Assembly – are developing the next generation of initiatives intended to curb, prevent and treat opioid abuse. The workgroup is bipartisan and includes five members from each chamber plus liaisons from other interested groups. I appointed Don Stader, MD, an emergency room physician who is nationally known for his expertise on this issue, to serve as the CMS liaison to the interim workgroup. Stader and I testified before the committee at its second meeting on Aug. 1, 2017.  Read his goals for the workgroup on page 66.

To prepare for the interim study, Lt. Gov. Lynne, on behalf of Gov. Hickenlooper, has been holding preliminary conversations with stakeholders to gather thoughts and strategies on the expanding set of policy options and best practices being developed in Colorado and other states. Joining me at the CMS meeting with Lt. Gov. Lynne was John Hughes, MD, chair of the CMS Special Committee on Prescription Drug Abuse; CMS President-elect Robert Yakely, MD; CMS Immediate Past President Michael Volz, MD; Susan Koontz, JD, CMS general counsel and director of government relations; and CMS CEO Alfred Gilchrist. It was a friendly, candid meeting and we brought our patient-centered focus to the discussion. The lieutenant governor emphasized the executive branch’s vested interest to achieve greater progress on the opioid crisis before the end of Gov. Hickenlooper’s gubernatorial term in 2018.

CMS applauds the efforts in Colorado to curb, prevent and treat opioid abuse and we continue to pledge our full support and cooperation to this collaborative effort.

Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Initiatives | Prescription Drug Abuse


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