Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) — including its Oregon campus, the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest — is one of more than 60 medical schools that will make pain relief a major part of their curriculum, the Obama Administration announced at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.

President Obama announced additional public and private sector actions on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 to escalate the fight against the prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemic, which is claiming the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year, according to a White House press release.

In the announcement, medical schools taking part in the initiative will require students to take some form of prescriber education beginning in fall 2016, in line with the newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, in order to graduate.

COMP and COMP-Northwest Dean Paula Crone, DO ’92, said that COMP/COMP-Northwest has signed on to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s (AACOM) effort toward pain management education.

“We were already working on this issue in our curriculum, and will continue to embed it as we move forward with additional curricular transformational changes,” she said.

President Obama announced other administration actions, such as expanding access to treatment, establishing a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Use Disorder Parity Task Force, implementing mental health and substance use disorder parity in Medicaid, preventing opioid overdose deaths, and tackling substance use disorders in rural communities, among many others.

College of Pharmacy Dean Daniel Robinson, PharmD, FASHP, said the College was not part of AACOM’s initiative, but that Doreen Pon, PharmD, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and administration, provides opioid use and abuse content within the pharmacy curriculum.

“The College also has been asked by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) to address how faculty are working, through teaching, research and service, to help stem the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic,” Robinson said.

Pon also works with the pain management and supportive care team at her clinical site, City of Hope Medical Center, and has identified knowledge gaps regarding the clinical use of opioids among health care professionals, Robinson said.

Pon’s results have been presented at the American Pain Society annual meeting, and a manuscript is being prepared for submission to The Journal of Opioid Management.  She collaborates in educating practitioners in the areas of pharmacy, medicine, surgery, dentistry, podiatry and geriatrics.

She recently published an article on prescription opioid abuse for the California Dental Association Journal.