- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Vermont’s health commissioner, Dr. Harry Chen, is joining colleagues nationally in pushing for changes in standards for responding to complaints of pain among patients. The effort comes amid growing concern that over-prescribing opiate painkillers is contributing to a national epidemic of addiction.

Chen joined other public health officials, medical experts and others in calling for stemming the boom in prescribing opiate painkillers that has gripped the U.S. health care system for the past two decades.

The officials and their allies are petitioning both the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals and other health organizations, and the federal agency that oversees Medicare.

Chen says the problem of over-prescribing and addiction started in the 1990s with a campaign among health professionals - and pushed by drug companies - that emphasized minimizing patients’ pain.

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