Skip Navigation

News

September 9, 2014

Nation’s Leading Health Advocates Join Clinton Foundation, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Signing Consensus Statement on Prescription Drug Misuse, Abuse and Addiction

Consensus Statement

Download the PDF

The Clinton Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health today announced a consensus statement addressing prescription drug misuse, abuse and addiction in the United States.

The consensus statement is a direct response to President Clinton’s call-to-action in May 2014, when he addressed leading experts convened by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to identify strategies for reversing alarming trends in injuries and deaths from these drugs, especially those due to prescription opioids. The group, which included clinicians, researchers, government officials, injury prevention professionals, law enforcement, pharmaceutical manufacturers, lawyers and patient representatives, produced guidelines that emphasize the urgency for a coordinated intervention along the supply chain and within the clinical, communityand addiction treatment settings.

The full text of the statement can be found here.

“Prescription drug abuse and misuse, as well as widespread addiction and diversion of these products to the illicit market, represents one of the greatest challenges to our country’s public health in recent memory,” says Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This consensus statement marks a continuation of our school’s commitment, as well as that of the Clinton Foundation, to address epidemic rates of poisonings and deaths that are occurring due to prescription opioids and other prescription drugs that are highly prone to abuse and misuse.”

 “Given the markedly rapid rise in prescription drug abuse and misuse in across the country, it’s paramount to our nation’s health to bring together leading experts and the most dedicated people from across sectors to collaborate on strategies to help us overcome and prevent the challenges of the current environment,” adds Rain Henderson, CEO of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative. “Collectively, we will make an important impact with the urgency of positive outcomes driving our work.“

The statistics on prescription drug abuse are nothing short of stunning. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared it a “silent epidemic” in 2011, with injuries and deaths arising from prescription drug abuse, particularly opioids, at epidemic levels. According to the CDC, drug overdoses were the leading cause of injury deaths in 2011, killing 41,340 people. There are more deaths due to drug overdoses than to motor vehicle crashes for those between the ages of 25 and 64. Meanwhile, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says the sale of prescription stimulants and painkillers has spiked during the past two decades: Between 1991 and 2010, prescriptions for stimulants increased from 5 million to nearly 45 million and for opioid analgesics from about 75.5 million to 209.5 million.

In the consensus statement, the group seeks to apply a public health frame to scaling and widely disseminating existing evidence-based interventions to combat abuse and misuse, as well as evaluating promising and innovative new solutions. At the same time, they argue for promoting appropriate and safe use of prescription opioids.

“Used appropriately, prescription opioids can provide relief to patients,” they write. “However, these therapies are often being prescribed in quantities and for conditions that are excessive, and in many cases, beyond the evidence base … We support efforts to maximize the favorable risk/benefit balance of prescription opioids by optimizing their use in circumstances supported by best clinical practice guidelines.”

The group convened at the invitation of the Clinton Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness and the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. The result of their town hall and one-day meeting is a commitment to develop and implement an action plan that utilizes the multidisciplinary skills and expertise of the many stakeholders addressing this issue.

In the coming months, the group will continue to work together to develop and advance specific action items that will address this epidemic. Among their areas of focus: development of innovative engineering strategies to make product and packaging safer; strengthening prescribing guidelines and professional practices; expanding the accessibility and use of prescription drug monitoring programs; widening the distribution of naloxone, a drug that can counteract the effects of an overdose if used immediately; and deploying greater community-based prevention initiatives.

The Clinton Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will facilitate the working groups’ efforts. The resulting action plans and recommendations will be included in a report that will be disseminated during the spring of 2015.

About the Clinton Foundation
The Clinton Foundation builds partnerships of great purpose between businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals everywhere to deliver lasting solutions and empower people to live better lives. Because of our work, nearly 20,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; 21,000 African farmers have improved their crops to feed 30,000 people; 248 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced in cities worldwide; more than 5,000 people have been trained in marketable job skills in Colombia; more than 5 million people have benefited from lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications; and CGI members have made more than 2,500 commitments to action to improve more than 430 million lives around the world. Learn more at http://www.clintonfoundation.org, on Facebook at Facebook.com/ClintonFoundation and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.

About the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
As a leading international authority on public health, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is dedicated to protecting health and saving lives. Every day, the Bloomberg School works to keep millions safe from illness and injury by pioneering new research, deploying its knowledge and expertise in the field, and educating tomorrow’s scientists and practitioners in the global defense of human life. Founded in 1916 as part of the Johns Hopkins University, the Bloomberg School of Public Health is the world’s oldest and largest independent school of public health. For 20 years, it has been ranked the No. 1 school of public health in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Learn more at www.jhsph.edu.

* * *

Media contact for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Stephanie Desmon at 410-955-7619 or sdesmon1@jhu.edu.