A comprehensive approach to address the prescription opioid epidemic in Washington State: milestones and lessons learned

Am J Public Health. 2015 Mar;105(3):463-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302367. Epub 2015 Jan 20.


An epidemic of morbidity and mortality has swept across the United States related to the use of prescription opioids for chronic noncancer pain. More than 100,000 people have died from unintentional overdose, making this one of the worst manmade epidemics in history. Much of health care delivery in the United States is regulated at the state level; therefore, both the cause and much of the cure for the opioid epidemic will come from state action. We detail the strong collaborations across executive health care agencies, and between those public agencies and practicing leaders in the pain field that have led to a substantial reversal of the epidemic in Washington State.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / poisoning*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Drug Overdose / etiology
  • Drug Overdose / mortality
  • Drug Overdose / prevention & control*
  • Drug Utilization Review / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Drug Utilization Review / methods
  • Drug Utilization Review / trends
  • Humans
  • Medicaid / standards
  • Medicaid / trends
  • Pain Management / mortality
  • Pain Management / standards*
  • Pain Management / trends
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / prevention & control*
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Washington / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid