American Society of Anesthesiologists Announces a Committee to Address Opioid Abuse and Encourages Co-prescribing of Naloxone
Fri, Apr. 1, 2016

CHICAGO – Today, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) announced the creation of its Ad Hoc Committee on Prescription Opioid Abuse, which will focus on identifying common-sense ways to reduce prescription opioid abuse and promote safe and effective treatments for patients with chronic pain. Additionally, ASA announced the release of its statement by ASA's Committee on Pain Medicine encouraging physicians to consider co-prescribing naloxone with an opioid for patients at high risk of overdose.

In response to President Obama's remarks at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, ASA applauds his efforts and remains committed to working with the Administration, as well as other private and public stakeholders to address the epidemic. 

ASA's Ad Hoc Committee on Prescription Opioid Abuse will work to advance policies promoting access to a wide range of therapies for chronic pain and encourage discussions about the safe use of opioids between physicians, patients and their loved ones. ASA's position, in its "ASA Committee on Pain Medicine Statement on Naloxone," aims to strongly support making naloxone more accessible to people who may witness an opioid overdose, including first responders, family members and caregivers of high-risk individuals. Naloxone is a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opioid prescribing guidelines and the passing of the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) are great steps toward addressing and preventing further opioid abuse," said Committee Co-chair Anita Gupta, D.O., Pharm.D. "As a nation losing nearly 100 lives a day to this epidemic, we have a duty to act. Policies that promote access to effective multimodal and multidisciplinary treatments for the management of chronic pain, such as interventional pain therapies, are essential to providing patient-centered pain care and reducing opioid use."

"ASA strongly supports making naloxone more accessible to individuals who might witness an opioid overdose," said Committee Co-chair James Rathmell, M.D. "While expanding access to naloxone does not address the underlying causes of the opioid abuse epidemic, it is an important step in preventing opioid overdose fatalities. We look forward to continuing our work with other stakeholders to identify policies that responsibly and effectively address this epidemic."
Members of the committee include Co-chairs Anita Gupta, D.O., Pharm.D., and James P. Rathmell, M.D., as well as members Carol J. Peairs, M.D., Edward Michna, M.D., Robert W. Hurley, M.D., Ph.D., Richard Rosenquist, M.D., Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., and Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D.
As part of ASA's efforts to reduce the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids, ASA collaborated with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop a wallet-sized card describing the signs and symptoms of an overdose as well as instructions for assisting someone suspected of an overdose, including instructions to administer naloxone and call 911. ASA is also working closely with federal agencies, medical societies, and other pain care stakeholders to support efforts that may curb prescription opioid abuse while ensuring patient access to the medications they need. These efforts include supporting prescription drug monitoring programs, enhancing physician education on pain care, and increasing research directed at pain medicine therapies.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves. For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit

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