A blueprint for action on the opioid crisis

From expanding naloxone access to supporting “take-back” programs, we have the power to stem the tide

Every 12.5 minutes, someone in the United States dies from an opioid-related overdose. If current trends continue, we could lose well over half a million people to opioid addiction over the next 10 years.

Many of us know someone who has suffered from opioid addiction or lost someone to an opioid overdose. It’s an issue that can affect anyone.

For instance, many Americans have unused or expired prescription medications in their medicine cabinets but haven’t received guidance about how to safely dispose of them. Each year, massive amounts of unused opioids in homes throughout the U.S. are diverted for nonmedical use. Along with our partners, we support stronger guidance on how to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs, including community-based take-back initiatives that are responsive to local needs.

This was one key recommendation in a report that our Clinton Health Matters Initiative released last October in partnership with Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. The report provided comprehensive recommendations for national action on the opioid epidemic, including:

  • Partnering with product developers to design easier to use and less costly naloxone — a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose — formulations,
  • Avoiding stigmatizing language and promoting language that can increase support for effective treatment of this condition, and
  • Providing clear and consistent guidance on opioid disposal and expand “take-back” programs.

To further combat this crisis, we’ve also worked with Harvard Medical School to expand training for health professionals and community first responders on how to reduce stigma and encourage people to get treatment. We are also proud to partner with Adapt Pharmaceuticals to make the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone available to every high school, college, and university in the United States that registers.

We all share a unique responsibility to act with meaning and work together to fight opioid abuse. We have the power to stem the tide and help impact families and strengthen communities across the country. It won’t be easy and we can’t do it alone, but with the power of progressive partnerships, we’re ready to end this public health crisis for good.