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March 29, 2016, President Obama announced public and private sector actions aimed at further strengthening the battle against the prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemic at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. 

AACOM President and CEO Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, was an invited guest of the President in honor of the Administration’s pledge on opioid prescription education, and he attended this event along with H. William Craver III, DO, Dean and Chief Academic Officer, Georgia Campus–Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM), and Barbara Walker, DO, Board of Trustees, American Osteopathic Association (AOA). 

AACOM worked with the AOA and the White House to set forth the role osteopathic medical education plays in the fight against opioid abuse. This collaboration resulted in 28 osteopathic medical schools pledging to incorporate prescriber education in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in their curriculum.

“The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine appreciates the opportunity to partner with the Administration and the American Osteopathic Association to provide leadership on this issue,” said Dr. Shannon. “Medical education is the cornerstone of our health care system. Our COMs have demonstrated time and again their commitment to ensuring that the future physician workforce receives the training they need to provide their patients the best possible care. This pledge reinforces our commitment to a patient community that desperately needs our attention and support.”

The CDC guidelines are aimed at improving communication between patients and doctors about benefits and risks of opioids for chronic pain, improving the safety and effectiveness of overall pain treatment, and reducing risks associated with long-term therapy involving opioids. According to AACOM’s annual survey, roughly 33 percent of osteopathic medical school graduates indicated that they plan to become a primary care physician. Today, nearly half of all opioid prescriptions are distributed by primary care physicians, making the education osteopathic medical students receive crucial to the well-being of the general population. 

Inside OME Header
April/May 2016
Vol. 10, No. 4