The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has launched an initiative designed to help small and midsize business owners who are struggling to address prescription drug misuse among their employees.
Annual opioid deaths increased by more than 5x between 1999 and 2017, prompting President Trump to declare a public health emergency in February 2018. Trump labelled the national opioid epidemic the “worst drug crisis in American history” (see related article).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an astonishing 42,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016, of which 40 percent of cases involved prescription painkillers.
Chamber Foundation president, Carolyn Cawley, said the majority of American businesses were feeling the impact from the crisis, but felt under-resourced to manage it.
“Employer-specific resources are thin, and they’re scattered. Our campaign collects and curates credible resources to help employers get what they need more quickly.”
The Chamber Foundation campaign, Sharing Solutions, includes the launch of a resource hub for businesses, a nationally recognized substance abuse expert advising the campaign, and a tour of ten hard-hit communities with workshops and broader community education.
The interactive site also shares best practices of companies taking action to address the crisis through changes in business processes, employee engagement, applying core competencies, and community engagement.
President of the AmerisourceBergen Foundation, one of the sponsors of the campaign, Gina Clark, said there was “tremendous opportunity for innovation among employers to address this public health crisis.”
a 2018 survey from the National Business Group on Health found 80 percent of major employers are concerned about abuse of opioids, with only 19 percent feeling “extremely prepared” to deal with prescription drug misuse at work.
“The opioid crisis is a growing concern among large employers,” said Brian Marcotte, NBGH president and CEO. “The misuse and abuse of opioids could negatively impact employee productivity, workplace costs, the availability of labor, absenteeism and disability costs, workers’ compensation claims, as well as overall medical expenses.”