On Monday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) wrote a letter to the American Medical Association begging them to force doctors to get addiction training.
Manchin’s state of West Virginia has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis. For years, pharmaceutical companies like Purdue pumped the state full of addictive opioids.
“Too many well-meaning medical professionals have had insufficient training on opioids, including effective pain management alternatives and the risks of substance abuse disorders,” Manchin wrote to Dr. James Madara, the AMA’s chief executive officer.
“This is why it is critical that we ensure that medical professionals have the training and education they need to responsibly prescribe opioid medications to reduce the risk of opioid addiction and overdose death,” he continued. 42,000 of the 64,000 drug overdoses last year were caused by opioids or heroin.
“We also know that individuals who are using and abusing illicit drugs—like 80% of heroin users—most likely first abused prescription drugs,” he said.
Manchin has been one of the largest recipients of pharmaceutical industry money over the years.
Critics worry that valid fears over the opioid crisis will lead doctors to swing too far in the opposite direction and refuse pain meds to people who need them.