Surgeon General calls for more robust physician training for opioid prescribing

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, on Wednesday said training needs to be ramped up for physicians who prescribe opioids, according to The Hill.

Surgeon General Murthy called prescribing practices "a key part" of curbing the widespread dissemination of painkillers, which have contributed to the epidemic of opioid abuse and an alarming number of overdose deaths across the nation, according to the report.

"If we change prescribing practices, we can change the face of the epidemic," Surgeon General Murthy said in a speech during a Washington Post forum on addiction Wednesday, The Hill reported.

While he was cautious about not blaming physicians for the opioid abuse emergency, Surgeon General Murthy did say overprescribing of the drugs in the 1990s was a driving force behind the epidemic.

"The majority of the supply of misused opioids are coming from legally written prescriptions," he said, according to the report.

Surgeon General Murthy called on the federal government to ensure physicians "have more tools" to prevent the abuse of painkillers. He also emphasized the importance of patient education, which has proven effective in combating the overprescribing of antibiotic medications.

However, the issue of prescriber training has been a point of contention for physician advocate organizations. The American Medical Association and many health insurers have resisted mandatory prescriber training.

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