September 15 – 16, 2014 | Lake Tahoe, Nevada

The NGA Center, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hosted a two-day meeting for senior-level policymakers from states participating in the Policy Academy on Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse. Teams from Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin explored best practices and the latest research, and they developed recommendations for reducing prescription drug abuse in their state.

Topics and themes from the meeting include:

  • Using data, metrics, and evaluation to drive policy and practice;
  • Adopting evidence-based policies and practices to target high-risk populations;
  • Using a multi-sector approach to developing a coordinated statewide action plan;
  • Improving and extending the capabilities of state prescription drug monitoring programs;
  • Increasing access to effective treatment; and
  • Increasing regional and interstate collaboration.



Understanding the Problem and Framing Solutions

  • Thomas MacLellan, director, Homeland Security and Public Safety Division, National Governors Association

What Works? Evidence-Based Practices and Promising Approaches for Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse

  • Keith Flynn, commissioner, Vermont Department of Public Safety
  • Angela Marcucci, director of policy, Office of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez
  • Rita Noonan, chief, Health Systems and Trauma Systems Branch, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury and Prevention Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  

Using Data to Drive Policy and Practice

  • Christopher M. Jones, senior advisor, Office of the Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Jeff Levi, executive director, Trust for America’s Health

Critical Elements of an Effective Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

  • John Eadie, director, Prescription Monitoring Program Center of Excellence, Brandeis University
  • Chris Traver, senior policy advisor, Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice

Prevention and Treatment Options

  • Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs, Vermont Department of Health
  • Mary Fleming, director, Office of Policy, Planning, and Innovation, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dick Steinberg, president and CEO, WestCare Foundation

Hot Topics: New and Emerging Issues

  • Cecelia Spitznas, senior science policy advisor, Office of National Drug Control Policy

Strategies for Health Care Purchasers

Developing Strategies to Build Effective Campaigns

  • David Hopkins, KASPER program manager, Office of Inspector General, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
  • Elizabeth Walker Romero, senior director, Health Improvement, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Federal Relations Update

  • Melinda Becker, legislative director, Health and Human Services Committee, Office of Federal Relations, National Governors Association


  • Six Strategies for Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse
    This issue brief from the National Governors Association highlights strategies and provides recommendations for governors looking to reduce prescription drug abuse in their state.
  • Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse: Lessons Learned from an NGA Policy Academy
    This issue brief from the National Governors Association details lessons learned from its Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy. Those lesson include: leadership matters; prescribing behavior needs to change; disposal options should be convenient and cost-effective; prescription drug monitoring programs are underused; public education is critical; treatment is essential; and data, metrics and evaluation must drive policy and practice.
  • Using PDMP Data to Guide Interventions with Possible At-Risk Prescribers
    This report from the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence at Brandeis University discusses ways that PDMP data can be used to identify the minority of prescribers who over-prescribe or mis-prescribe controlled substances, especially opioids and benzodiazepines.
  • Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic 2013
    This report by Trust for America’s Health provides an overview of the prescription drug epidemic and state responses to the problem. Key topics include state indicators, prescription drug monitoring programs, substance abuse services under Medicaid expansion, Good Samaritan laws, physical exam requirements, and pharmacy lock-in programs.
  • State Medicaid Provider Assignment or Lock-In Programs and Requirements
    This report from WellPoint provides a summary chart of state Medicaid provider lock-in program requirements and parameters in 15 states.
  • Law Enforcement Naloxone Toolkit
    The Department of Justice’s Law Enforcement Naloxone Toolkit, accessible at, offers resources and information for law enforcement agencies interested in creating a naloxone program. Naloxone can be used to reverse an overdose of heroin or another opioid. Resources include data forms, standard operating procedures, community outreach materials, and training guides.
  • Medication Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
    The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services issued this informative bulletin highlighting Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), a strategy in which FDA-approved medications are used in combination with evidence-based behavioral therapy to overcome substance use disorder (SUD). The Bulletin includes background information about the medications and therapies used to treat SUD, strategies for managing MAT initiatives, examples of state initiatives, and useful resources.
  • Vital Signs: Variation Among States in Prescribing of Opioid Pain Relievers and Benzodiazepines – United States, 2012
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this report highlighting the wide variation across the country in prescribing rates for opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepines.