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Yale Joins More Than 100 Organizations in Countering the Opioid Epidemic

April 30, 2019

Yale School of Medicine is among more than 100 organizations across the U.S.—including community organizations, hospital and medical systems, academia, nonprofits, and health professional societies—to join the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in declaring their commitment to reversing national trends in opioid misuse and overdose.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the most devastating public health crises of the modern era, impacting individuals, families, and communities across the nation,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “The complexity of this crisis requires sustained commitment from all stakeholders: health systems, federal and state governments, community organizations, provider groups, payers, industry, nonprofits, and academia. Reversing the opioid epidemic requires a multi-sectoral response—no organization, agency, or sector can solve this problem on their own. NAM is privileged to lead this action collaborative, which will work to develop collective solutions and advance those with the most potential to reverse or stem the crisis. We are thrilled to see such a robust commitment from organizations across the country in joining with us to be part of the solution.”

The NAM recently called for statements describing current work and future goals to counter the opioid epidemic in the areas of health professional education and training; opioid prescribing guidelines and evidence standards; prevention, treatment, and recovery; and research, data, and metrics.

Yale’s statement focuses on the school’s efforts across the research, education, and clinical enterprises. These include conducting and disseminating research on the underpinnings of substance use disorder and innovative treatment strategies; educational initiatives to prepare medical and PA students, residents, and fellows to help address the opioid epidemic; and being at the forefront of delivering state-of-the-art treatment.

“Yale School of Medicine is committed to helping alleviate the opioid crisis by drawing upon our considerable expertise in addiction medicine and educating the next generation of clinician scientists,” said Robert J. Alpern, MD, dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine.

The number of opioid-related deaths—from both prescription opioids and illegal drugs including heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil—has quadrupled in the last 20 years. At present, the opioid epidemic claims 130 lives every day. Addiction and overdose not only destroy individual lives but also erode the health and prosperity of families and communities. The economic toll is significant; according to the nonprofit research organization Altarum, the cost of the opioid crisis is estimated to have exceeded $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017, and is projected to cost an additional $500 billion by 2020.

By making a visible commitment to combating the opioid crisis, Yale and other groups join the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic as network organizations. Founded in 2018 in collaboration with the Aspen Institute, the collaborative is a public-private partnership committed to developing, curating, and disseminating multi-sector solutions designed to reduce opioid misuse and improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities affected by the opioid crisis.

Submitted by Jill Max on April 30, 2019