Gainesville Times Letter to the Editor (response)

Your Views: Physicians doing their part to end prescription abuse

Letter to the editor

I am responding to a letter written by Elizabeth Martin in The Times calling for physicians to take the prescription drug abuse epidemic seriously.

I applaud Ms. Martin for sharing her personal story and perspective. She has rightfully put a spotlight on a tragic national, state and local problem. I want to assure Ms. Martin and the residents of Gainesville, as well as Georgia, that physicians have indeed assumed a leadership role in addressing the prescription drug abuse problem. In fact, the Medical Association of Georgia Foundation has joined the Drug Free Coalition of Hall County and other leading stakeholders to create a multifaceted program to reduce prescription drug abuse in Hall County and the state.

The Medical Association of Georgia Foundation “Think About It” campaign is effecting change in a number of important ways, including our advocacy efforts to get a prescription drug monitoring program up and running in Georgia so that patients who doctor shop to obtain prescription pain killers can be more readily identified. Sadly, Georgia is one of the last states in the nation to make operational a prescription monitoring program.

We have also sponsored a number of community and physician-based education events in this and other communities across the state to point out the consequences of prescription narcotic overprescribing and the dangers associated with abuse of prescription pain-killers. In addition, we have funded a number of drop boxes for expired and unneeded prescription drugs, including one that was placed at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office in Gainesville last November.

Both the physicians and the citizens of Georgia stand to lose if we don’t restore balance to the arena of pain treatment with narcotic medications. Physicians, of course, play a central role as the party that issues prescriptions. I cannot overstate, however, the part that citizens play in preventing therapeutic narcotics from falling into the hands of those for whom they were not prescribed.

I encourage the physicians and residents of Gainesville and Georgia to take an active role in prevention of prescription-related addiction and accidental overdose deaths by supporting the “Think About It” campaign at www.rxdrugabuse.org.

I am proud to say that the physicians that I know in this and other communities in Georgia are united in their unwavering pledge to deliver excellent patient care.

P. Tennent Slack, M.D.
Medical Association of Georgia Foundation ‘Think About It’ Campaign, Atlanta

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