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ACCP Report - April 2019

Washington Report.

America’s Opioid Addiction: Optimizing Medications in a Public Health Crisis

Written by John McGlew
Director of Government Affairs


America is in the grip of an addiction crisis – almost 64,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2016 alone, with opioid overdoses accounting for more than 42,000 of these deaths – higher than during any previous year on record.1 In October 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, and on Capitol Hill, a rare show of bipartisanship enabled passage of wide-ranging legislation that aims to prevent illicit fentanyl trafficking, account for drug diversion in opioid manufacturing quotas, and improve access to addiction treatments through telemedicine.

In recognition of this public health crisis, ACCP is working with a diverse range of stakeholders, including congressional leaders, federal task force structures, and other health professional societies, to ensure that medication optimization and effective management of all medications, including those prescribed for pain or addiction recovery, are central components of the policy initiatives aimed at addressing the crisis.

In 2018, ACCP released a statement to the Senate Finance Committee in response to a request for feedback on how to improve Medicare and Medicaid responses to the opioid epidemic.2 In this statement, ACCP specifically called for coverage for comprehensive medication management (CMM) to allow clinical pharmacists, as part of the patient care team, to identify appropriate goals for opioid therapy in individual patients, recommend alternatives if these goals are not met, and monitor adverse effects of opioids to mitigate the risks of oversedation and overdose. In addition, ACCP’s comments highlighted how clinical pharmacists providing CMM can assist in:

  • Ensuring patients reach medication-related clinical goals that are established through shared decision-making with all members of the health care team.
  • Addressing opioid use and/or misuse, when applicable.
  • Educating patients and health care providers about acute and chronic pain therapeutics.
  • Evaluating and implementing clinical pathways and systems to optimize the therapeutic use of opioids and other controlled substances.

American Society of Addiction Medicine

Consistent with its commitment to team-based care, the College is engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to identify potential areas for collaboration and engagement.

ASAM is a professional medical society representing over 6000 physicians, clinicians, and associated professionals in the field of addiction medicine. ASAM is dedicated to increasing access to and improving the quality of addiction treatment, educating physicians and the public, supporting research and prevention, and promoting the appropriate role of physicians in the care of patients with addiction.

ACCP is currently exploring opportunities to develop the partnership with ASAM though providing collaborative educational sessions at ACCP and ASAM meetings, developing public policy statements, exploring clinical guidelines, and engaging in an advocacy partnership through the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose (CSOO), which ACCP formally joined in 2019.

Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose

Founded in 2016, the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose (CSOO) brings together a diverse range of mental health, substance use disorder, and health care professional organizations united around common policy goals to reduce opioid overdose deaths. ACCP formally joined the coalition in 2019 to advance its policy platform, which includes:

  • Changing the conversation about what it means to have a substance use disorder and challenging the stigma and discrimination associated with it.
  • Strengthening the substance use disorder workforce.
  • Removing barriers, and increasing equitable access, to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services for all people with (or at risk of having) a substance use disorder who need these services, including evidence-based treatment for people who are incarcerated.
  • Supporting research into effective prevention programs and pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments for substance use disorder and chronic pain.

Dr. Corey Waller, chair of ASAM’s legislative advocacy committee, notes that “we are thrilled to have the American College of Clinical Pharmacy as a new member of the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose,” adding that:

Effective medication management is a critical component to reducing opioid-related overdose deaths. We look forward to working with ACCP to increase medication optimization and expand access to high-quality patient care for all who need it.


  1. Ending America’s Opioid Crisis. Available at
  2. American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP). Statement to the United States Senate Committee on Finance in Response to the Request for Feedback on How to Improve Medicare, Medicaid and Human Services Programs Responses to the Opioid Epidemic. February 16, 2018. Available at