DOJ announces new effort to crack down on doctors overprescribing opioids

A memo detailing the plan is expected to be sent to all 94 U.S. attorney offices next week

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is planning to launch a new initiative to combat the U.S. opioid epidemic, Kevin Johnson writes for USA Today.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch (D) outlined the plan, which has yet to be released, in an interview with USA Today. A memo detailing the plan is expected to be sent to all 94 U.S. attorney offices next week.

How physicians can help curb the opioid epidemic

Plan details

DOJ's new strategy will focus on identifying links between physician overprescribing and distribution networks across the United States.

Specifically, Lynch said prosecutors will be encouraged to share information across state lines about physicians' inappropriate prescribing practices, which could help to identify traffickers and trafficking routes more quickly. Lynch said prosecutors also will be urged to coordinate their enforcement efforts with public health officials in their districts.

"I'm not calling anybody out, because I think the people who look at this problem realize quickly how devastating it has been to families, to communities, to public health dollars, to law enforcement resources,'' Lynch said. "There is no one magic bullet for this.''

Obama signs bill to combat opioid misuse

Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy, on Thursday said the Obama administration also will call on Congress to approve funding for recent legislation that aims to curb opioid misuse. In addition, the effort will call on congressional lawmakers to approve $1.1 billion in grants to pay for treatment requested by the White House, which will host events next week to raise awareness about the issue.

"The biggest area where we have fallen short is filling the gap between people who need treatment and those able to get it,'' Botticelli said, adding, "We need more treatment capacity. ... This requires a response commensurate with the size of the epidemic."

Lynch said, "We've been looking at this for a long time with an awareness that you can't just have an enforcement strategy alone" (Johnson, USA Today, 9/16).

How hospitals can reduce opioid prescriptions—and cut millions in costs

As legislators grapple with the opioid epidemic, hospitals are also rethinking their prescription practices. We polled over 200 acute care pharmacy leaders to understand how they are making formulary decisions, and what's the impact on reducing opioid prescriptions and related complications.

Read the research brief to learn more about our analysis of more than 400 organizations to investigate the impact of multi-modal pain regimens, and how your organization may be able to save over $1 million by reducing opioid use during surgery.

Download the brief


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