By The White House.

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT:       Addressing Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Use

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to reduce prescription pain medication and heroin overdose deaths, promote the appropriate and effective prescribing of pain medications, and improve access to treatment, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1.  Policy.  The epidemic of prescription pain medication and heroin deaths is devastating families and communities across the country.  Prescription drugs — especially opioid pain medications — have been implicated increasingly in drug overdose deaths over the last decade.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids quadrupled between 1999 and 2013, with more than 16,000 deaths in 2013.  In recent years, overdose deaths involving heroin have sharply increased, nearly doubling between 2011 and 2013.  The CDC has identified addiction to prescription pain medication as the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction.

One of the most significant ways to address these issues is to ensure that medical professionals receive adequate training on appropriate pain medication prescribing practices, and the risks associated with these medications.  The Federal Government must do more to ensure that such training is provided on an ongoing basis to health care professionals prescribing pain medications. Work is already underway to achieve this goal across executive departments and agencies, but these efforts must be accelerated given the urgency of the problem.  The training of Federal health care personnel in appropriate prescribing of controlled substances should be a model for similar initiatives developed across the country.

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