AMA wraps up meeting with resolutions on opioids, gun control

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The final hours of the American Medical Association’s annual meeting in Chicago were busy, as its delegates adopted new policies on a variety of topics, including several aimed at slowing down the rise in opioid addiction.

The AMA also followed up on its earlier vote asking Congress to remove restrictions on federally-funded gun violence research, passing resolutions to endorse background checks and waiting periods for all gun buyers, not just people purchasing handguns.

“The shooting in Orlando is a horrific reminder of the public health crisis of gun violence rippling across the United States. Mass killers have used AR-15s, rifles and handguns, and today we strengthened our policy on background checks and waiting periods to cover them all with the goal of keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,” AMA past President Steven J. Stack, MD, said in a statement.

The AMA delegates also approved new policies surrounding opioid prescriptions. Physicians will be encouraged to co-prescribe naxolone, which can reverse the effects of opioids, to all patients at risk of an opioid overdose. The policy also calls for insurers to include naxolone on their preferred drug formularies with minimal cost sharing, and asks for states to allow police officers and first responders to carry and administer naxolone.

“These policies will save lives. That's the bottom line," Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair-elect of the AMA and chair of the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, said in a statement. "Time and time again, we have seen naloxone save lives once it is in the hands of first responders. We just have to make sure that we are co-prescribing it when clinically indicated, and that it is affordable for the community and available at local pharmacies."

The delegates also approved a resolution asking for patient satisfaction surveys of pain treatment not to be linked to payments, arguing this encourages physicians to overprescribe opioids.

The other resolutions approved by the AMA include support for:

  • Expanded funding for graduate medical education.
  • Laws requiring insurance parity for telemedicine.
  • Warnings being attached to lawyer ads dealing with pharmaceutical lawsuits.
  • Regulation of dry needling by non-physicians similar to training required of licensed physicians and acupuncturists.
  • Funding a program to dispose of unused prescription medication as hazardous waste.