Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies

New Physicians Leaders Group Opens Major
Review of National Drug Policy

NEW YORK CITY, July 9, 1997 --- A distinguished group of physician leaders today announced the beginning of a major review of the successes and failures of the nation's war on illegal drugs, with a focus on evaluating significant new policy directions. "Our goal is to seek a new balance between criminal justice, which has dominated policy, and the health system, which has been under utilized," said David C. Lewis, M.D., the project director who is also Director of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University

10 a.m., Wednesday, July 9
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue

The panel of nearly 40 physician leaders, several with extensive public policy experience at the highest federal levels, will be chaired by June E. Osborn, M.D., President of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation and former chair of the Congressionally appointed National Commission on AIDS.

"Never before has a physicians' group attempted an extensive review of national drug policy," Dr. Osborn said. "We hope to remedy this shortcoming. At its core, drug abuse is a medical issue that, out of control as it now is, gives rise to vast community health, social, economic, and criminal justice problems."

Participants in the "Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy" include Lonnie Bristow, M.D., the immediate past president of the American Medical Association (AMA), David Kessler, M.D., the immediate past commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Antonia Novello, M.D., Ph.D., the former U.S. Surgeon General, Frederick Robbins, M.D., Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine, as well as Jeremiah Barondess, M.D., President of the New York Academy of Medicine, Stephen Scheiber, M.D., Executive Vice President of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, George Lundberg, M.D., Editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and Jerome Kassirer, M.D., Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Other members include chairmen and department heads of academic and medical research institutions, hospitals, medical centers and leaders of national professional societies from across the country.

The project may take two or more years though initial recommendations may come within a year, including the results of new drug related studies being commissioned by the panel. The project is being independently funded by private foundation grants.

At the press conference on Wednesday, July 9, there will be a consensus statement on national drug policy issues, a list of panel members, and a discussion of short-term and long-term research and policy objectives.

Dr. Lewis, the project director, said, "We're delighted with the particularly wide range of perspectives and experiences brought to the table by the physicians who have committed themselves to this project. Many of them are motivated by the growth of drug abuse, particularly among young people, and the critical need for major improvements in our anti-drug efforts."

Dr. Osborn, the panel chair, said, "We would hope that a consensus developed by this remarkably broad-based physicians group will have significant impact on drug policy decision makers in the criminal justice, legislative, and medical communities."

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