Physician group rejects AMA's claim that the opioid crisis is no longer driven by prescriptions

Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing sent a letter Feb. 16 to the American Medical Association criticizing its stance that the opioid epidemic is not fundamentally driven by prescribed opioids, but rather heroin and fentanyl that is illegally produced and obtained.

The AMA sent a letter June 16 to Deborah Dowell, MD, the CDC's chief medical officer at the time, which said the U.S. "no longer has a prescription opioid-driven epidemic."

"We are now facing an unprecedented, multifactorial and much more dangerous overdose and drug epidemic driven by heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and stimulants," the AMA wrote. "We can no longer afford to view increasing drug-related mortality through a prescription opioid-myopic lens."

PROP, an organization consisting of physicians and patient advocates with expertise in pain medicine, also criticized the opioid recommendations included in an AMA issue brief updated Feb. 2, in which the AMA urged lawmakers to remove "arbitrary" restrictions on opioid doses, quantity and refills.

"There is compelling evidence that many of those currently struggling with opioid dependence and addiction were introduced to opioids through use of medically prescribed opioids used to treat chronic pain," PROP wrote in its letter to the AMA. "Medically prescribed opioids remain a common gateway to illicit opioid use and are themselves frequent causes of opioid addiction and overdose, even if illicit opioids currently cause the greater number of deaths."

PROP concluded its letter by saying policymakers should instate regulations that limit long-term opioid prescribing, saying the drugs are most helpful when used in short-term scenarios.

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