Partnership for Drug-Free Kids today announced the national launch of "Search and Rescue," a prescriber education campaign that gives healthcare providers the resources they need to prescribe opioids responsibly and prevent the misuse and abuse of medicine in their practices.
Abuse of prescription pain relievers has played a key role in today's opioid epidemic. The goal of the Partnership's "Search and Rescue" campaign, developed with support from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is to prepare prescribers to be proactive in identifying and helping patients at risk for prescription drug abuse.
More attention has been brought to this critical health issue with the Surgeon General's recent letter to more than 2 million healthcare providers, urging them to help turn the tide of opioid abuse problems facing the nation.
"The FDA is proud to support this campaign to educate and inform providers about the risks of addiction and the misuse and abuse of opioids in their efforts to treat their patients' pain responsibly and prevent the misuse and abuse of these drugs," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). "Educating the healthcare community on appropriate prescribing of prescription opioid medications is a cornerstone of the FDA's Opioid Action Plan, and continues to be a top priority for the agency, as well as for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and across the federal government. The Search and Rescue campaign connects prescribers to training, information and resources that can help, and we encourage them to share this educational content with their peers as we all continue to work to change the culture of inappropriate opioid prescribing in this country."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most drug overdose deaths (more than 6 out of 10) involve opioid use, and overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor behind the 17-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Sales of prescription opioids — like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone — have quadrupled since 1999, and so have overdose deaths involving prescription opioids.
"Today's opioid epidemic has reached alarming and tragic proportions, with 78 opioid overdose deaths occurring daily in the United States. Addressing this dire national problem requires a multi-pronged approach, involving parents, educators, community leaders, treatment professionals and healthcare providers," said partnership president and CEO Marcia Lee Taylor. "The partnership is proud to apply its communications expertise to the challenge of reaching and helping educate prescribers, who can and must be a huge part of the solution."
The partnership developed the campaign in collaboration with the FDA and health marketing agency Razorfish Health. It was piloted in Maryland and Rhode Island in 2014, and then expanded to six states in 2015.
To learn more about the nation's opioid epidemic, visit http://www.drugfree.org/heroin.