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National Safety Council urges mandatory prescriber training on opioid painkillers

In a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Safety Council urges the DEA to require additional education and training for medical practitioners who prescribe opioid painkillers as a part of registration under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

“The most fatally abused drug today is legal and sitting in our medicine cabinets,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “DEA has been on the front lines of the fight to end this epidemic, and we applaud its efforts. We urge DEA to take another critical step by requiring prescriber education and training to prevent overprescribing and save lives.”

The council proposes that mandatory education and training curricula include:

  • Relative effectiveness and risks of opioid painkillers
  • Responsible prescribing, including the use of tools such as state databases to track prescribing history
  • Managing treatment referrals for addiction

According to the NSC, opioid painkillers lead to more fatal drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. As the number of prescriptions has risen nationally, so have concerns about impacts on employers, insurers and other workers’ compensation system stakeholders. (Refer to Employers Arming Themselves in Battle Against Opioid Addiction, Vitality Atlas, Vol. 1, No. 2, WorkCare’s quarterly newsletter.)