Curbing the nation’s opioid epidemic

March 29, 2016

It's hard not to notice the prevalence of recent headlines about opioid addiction and abuse in the United States. As Oregon's academic health center, OHSU is involved in the conversation, contributing research, education and health care expertise to help address what is commonly being called an epidemic in this country.

Roger Chou, M.D., professor of medicine and medical informatics and clinical epidemiology, OHSU School of Medicine, co-authored opioid prescribing guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month. Dr. Chou, director of the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Research Center, is well-known for his contributions in evidence analysis and systematic reviews. The CDC guidelines garnered countless headlines, including national coverage such as the New York Times and a Q&A with Dr. Chou in the Portland Business Journal.

Future providers also need to be informed about prescription drug use and abuse to help curb the epidemic. In the School of Medicine, all M.D. students will take the Pain Intersession course in the YOUR M.D. curriculum. The two-week, required course begins April 11 and will teach medical students about topics related to pain and prescribing using an integrated approach which covers basic, clinical and health care delivery sciences. Multiple OHSU faculty members will provide instruction – including Dr. Chou.

Today, the White House announced actions to address the issue in conjunction with President Barack Obama's participation in the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. The OHSU School of Medicine is among more than 60 medical schools to sign a pledge stating that students will receive a form of prescriber education, in line with the CDC recommendations.

OHSU also signed a statement from the Association of American Medical Colleges, highlighting how "academic medical centers across the country are actively developing robust curricula to train today's medical students about the threats posed by prescription drugs." Learn more about how AAMC institutions are responding with new approaches to substance abuse and pain management education.