Vol. 33, No. 2     Fall 2010
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Opiates and Advocacy

Alex Cahana, M.D., leads UW Medicine’s Division of Pain Medicine.
Alex Cahana, M.D., leads UW Medicine’s Division of
Pain Medicine.

“In the state of Washington, more people die from prescription opiates than all illegal drugs combined,” says Alex Cahana, M.D., DAAPM, FIPP. And in fact, because of the dramatic increase in the use of opioids in recent years, prescription drug overdoses are second only to car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

Cahana has been deeply involved in strategies to reduce mortality from prescription opioids, including spearheading legislative reform via the Washington State Opioid Reform Initiative, which seeks to reduce the over-prescription of narcotics.

This initiative led to the passage of bill ESHB 2876, which Cahana calls “the most progressive bill in the nation” on the issue. The bill requires the adoption of various rules concerning the management of chronic, non-cancerous pain — including mandatory education and required use of a prescription monitoring program and a clinical tracking tool — and now serves as a model for other states and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more about the new opiate law at the Washington State Department of Health’s website.

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