Governors Sign Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction

WASHINGTON—Forty-six governors have signed the Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction, developed by and released today through the National Governors Association (NGA).

By signing the compact, governors are agreeing to redouble their efforts to fight the opioid epidemic with new steps to reduce inappropriate prescribing, change the nation’s understanding of opioids and addiction and ensure a pathway to recovery for individuals suffering from addiction.

This marks the first time in more than 10 years that governors have developed a compact through NGA to spur coordinated action on an urgent national issue.

“Bringing governors together around core strategies to end the opioid epidemic adds momentum behind state efforts and sends a clear signal to opioid prescribers and others whose leadership is critical to saving lives,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, chair of the NGA Health and Human Services Committee. “Massachusetts is proud to bring our plans to the table for other states as we work collaboratively to find meaningful solutions to this public health crisis.”

The compact stems from a resolution governors passed in February at their Winter Meeting, where they outlined the need for federal action to support states and collaboration from the private sector, particularly when it comes to reducing inappropriate opioid prescribing, a key driver of an epidemic that claims the lives of roughly 78 Americans every day. Though the discussion focused on opioid prescribing guidelines, governors agreed that broader collective action is needed to address all of the factors contributing to the crisis.

“Governors have been leading the fight against opioid addiction, implementing a range of bold public health and law enforcement strategies in each of our states, but this horrible national epidemic continues to require urgent action and constant vigilance,” said New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, vice chair of the committee, who led the compact with Gov. Baker. “A crisis of this magnitude requires a coordinated and comprehensive response across states and all levels of government, as well the private sector, to support law enforcement and strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery.”

Governors’ annual Summer Meeting begins tomorrow in Des Moines, Iowa. On Friday, they will host a session on opioid abuse with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency and National Academy of Medicine, as well as state experts.

At the 2017 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., NGA will report on specific steps governors have taken to meet their commitments and build on existing efforts.