Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy, a Brown University-based group of national leaders in the field of medicine, has been outspoken on the need to shift priorities from law enforcement to public health in the nation's battle against substance abuse. Last week, their efforts were given a major boost in the form of $1.35 million in grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The grants will be used to raise awareness of the need to make treatment more readily available to those who need it. Among the specific programs covered by the grants are an effort to pair physicians with community groups, provide educational materials, and produce videotapes summarizing existing research in treatment and prevention for use by police, judges and physicians.
Dr. David S. Greer, professor of community health and dean of medicine emeritus at the Brown University School of Medicine, told the Brown Daily Herald that the group advocates major changes in our nation's drug policies.
"We look at the extent of effectiveness of incarceration and look at the extent, or lack thereof, of treatment," Greer said. "We want to shift priorities from interdiction and incarceration to treatment and rehabilitation."
Physician Leadership made news in March 1998 with the release of a study regarding the efficacy of treatment over incarceration, and its consensus statement calling for a host of public health strategies in place of current, enforcement-based drug policies.
Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy is comprised of a broad range of national leaders in the fields of medicine and public health, including high-ranking officials from the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations.
Members include Louis Sullivan, M.D., Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bush, Edward Brandt, MD, Assistant Secretary of HHS under President Reagan, and David Kessler, MD, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Clinton. The group also includes a former Surgeon General, a Nobel laureate, and the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of The American Medical Association.
Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy has a web site at http://www.caas.brown.edu/plndp/ where physicians can register as PLNDP Associates, endorse PLNDP's consensus statement and receive updates on the organization's activities and the issue.