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The White House
For Immediate Release

White House Hosts Panel on Effective Treatment for Overdose Survivors for More Than 600 Medical Providers and First Responders

Today, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy hosted an online panel presentation on innovative strategies to link drug overdose survivors to effective treatment for their substance use disorders. Across the country, thousands of lives have been saved with the overdose reversal drug naloxone; however it is critical to follow up with treatment to help overdose survivors recover and to reduce the likelihood of future overdoses. More than 600 emergency room doctors, treatment providers, nurses, hospital administrators, and first responders joined the presentation to hear about how they could implement similar models in their communities. 

“Emergency physicians and nurses have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of overdose survivors,” said Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, during the presentation. “We need to treat drug overdose patients the same as we treat cardiac or trauma patients – resuscitate and stabilize them and link them with specialists and others who treat and support their recover over time. We should be doing this for every patient who experiences a drug overdose.” 

During the discussion, Traci Green, PhD and Deputy Director of the Boston Medical Center Injury Prevention Center joined Dr. Elizabeth Samuels, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University School of Medicine, to share their work and results from two Rhode Island programs.  These programs work with community partners and hospital emergency departments to engage patients with opioid use disorders, provide naloxone kits and training to patients, and connect patients to recovery coaches who can help them access treatment and other services. 

Janice Pringle, PhD and Associate Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics at the University of Pittsburgh joined with Cheryl Andrews, the Executive Director of the Washington County Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Commission, to provide an overview of their efforts under the Overdose-Free PA program.  This program includes initiatives such as a 24/7 crisis line for emergency departments or first responders to call for “warm handoff” of overdose survivors to treatment and other services, as well as a Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program in a Pittsburgh Emergency Department. This program has helped drive down healthcare costs and reduced 30-day and one-year readmission rates at the emergency department.

Finally, Dr. Gail D’Onofrio, a professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine, shared the comprehensive approaches adopted in the Yale New Haven Hospital. The clinical trial, completed in 2015, found that opioid overdose patients and patients with an opioid use disorder for whom buprenorphine was initiated in the emergency department were more likely to be engaged in their treatment 30 days later than patients receiving a treatment referral or a brief intervention. 

President Obama has repeatedly called on Congress to provide additional resources to ensure that every American with an opioid use disorder who wants treatment can get it and start the road to recovery.