Aspen Institute Partners with National Academy of Medicine to Launch Action Collaborative to Counter Opioid Epidemic

August 2, 2018

The partnership is chaired by Dr. Victor J. Dzau, NAM president, and co-founded by Ruth Katz, vice president and executive director of the Health, Medicine, and Society Program.

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Associate
Tel. 202-736-2111 |

Washington, DC, August 2, 2018 – Despite its declared status as a national public health emergency, progress in addressing the U.S. opioid epidemic remains slow. According to CDC, on average, 115 Americans still die every day from an opioid overdose.

To boost momentum, the Aspen Institute is partnering with the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) and more than 35 other organizations to form the NAM Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. The collaborative comprises representatives from government, associations and provider groups, health education and accrediting institutions, pharmacies, payers, industry, non-profits, academia and more — all committed to sharing knowledge, aligning ongoing initiatives, and advancing evidence-based, collective solutions to the crisis.

This one-of-a-kind public-private partnership builds on the work of the Aspen Health Strategy Group, an initiative of the Aspen Institute’s Health, Medicine and Society Program. The Group is chaired by former governors and U.S. Health and Human Services secretaries Kathleen Sebelius and Tommy Thompson, and is comprised of CEOs and other influential leaders across the health and health care spectrum. Its 2017 report, Five Big Ideas to Confront Our Nation’s Opioid Crisis, speaks broadly to the major components of a national response to the epidemic. The NAM Action Collaborative brings together the key stakeholders who can actually advance the multi-sector, on-the-ground solutions necessary to get the job done.

The NAM release announcing the collaborative, including the list of supporting organizations, can be viewed here:

“The Aspen Institute is honored to join with the National Academy of Medicine in addressing this pressing public health epidemic,” said Ruth Katz, vice president and executive director of the Health, Medicine and Society Program. “The NAM Action Collaborative expands upon our previous work, provides a comprehensive framework for moving forward, and includes those best positioned to bring about meaningful and impactful change. This is exactly the kind of focus, commitment and engagement long needed to meet this difficult challenge.”

“I am grateful to Ruth and the Aspen Institute for co-founding this important Collaborative,” said Dr. Victor J. Dzau, NAM president and chair of the collaborative. “With additional leadership from the federal government, including the strong support of the US Department of Health and Human Services, as well as partners in the private sector, we are confident that we can achieve the much-needed progress that is only possible through collective actions of this unique public-private partnership.”

From 1999 through 2016, more than 350,000 Americans died from an overdose involving an opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids of all types was five times higher than in 1999. Addiction and overdose not only destroy individual lives; they hurt entire families and communities alike. The economic toll is significant as well:  The President’s Council of Economic Advisors report that the opioid crisis cost the country $504 billion in 2015, or 2.8% of the gross national product.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond.  It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the nation and the international community.  Through its domestic and global initiatives, the NAM works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy and inspire positive action across sectors.  The NAM collaborates closely with its peer academies and other divisions within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.


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