• Revenue Cycle Management
  • COVID-19
  • Reimbursement
  • Diabetes Awareness Month
  • Risk Management
  • Patient Retention
  • Staffing
  • Medical Economics® 100th Anniversary
  • Coding and documentation
  • Business of Endocrinology
  • Telehealth
  • Physicians Financial News
  • Cybersecurity
  • Cardiovascular Clinical Consult
  • Locum Tenens, brought to you by LocumLife®
  • Weight Management
  • Business of Women's Health
  • Practice Efficiency
  • Finance and Wealth
  • EHRs
  • Remote Patient Monitoring
  • Sponsored Webinars
  • Medical Technology
  • Billing and collections
  • Acute Pain Management
  • Exclusive Content
  • Value-based Care
  • Business of Pediatrics
  • Concierge Medicine 2.0 by Castle Connolly Private Health Partners
  • Practice Growth
  • Concierge Medicine
  • Business of Cardiology
  • Implementing the Topcon Ocular Telehealth Platform
  • Malpractice
  • Influenza
  • Sexual Health
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Technology
  • Legal and Policy
  • Money
  • Opinion
  • Vaccines
  • Practice Management
  • Patient Relations
  • Careers

Stop the opioid epidemic by stopping fentanyl at U.S. borders, congressman says


Lethal drug imports and overdose deaths are going in the wrong direction. Rep. Greg Murphy also discusses physician burnout and importance of primary care.

U.S. capitol congress © Sagittarius Pro - stock.adobe.com

© Sagittarius Pro - stock.adobe.com

The United States has a border problem that is contributing to high numbers of opioid overdose deaths across the nation, said Rep. Greg Murphy, MD (R-North Carolina).

It also may be time for a national conversation about physician burnout and whether medical schools are admitting the right candidates for an honorable but demanding profession that requires rigorous training. Meanwhile, Murphy, a urologist and the only practicing surgeon in Congress, shared a message for primary care physicians when he spoke with Medical Economics this month.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Medical Economics: In the North Carolina House of Representatives, you worked on legislation dealing with solutions for the opioid epidemic. What additional actions would you like to see at the federal level to combat the opioid epidemic?

Rep. Greg Murphy, MD 
(R-North Carolina)

Rep. Greg Murphy, MD
(R-North Carolina)

Rep. Greg Murphy, MD: I was very proud about what we did in North Carolina because we really stopped over-prescribing, we worked with law enforcement, and then we tried to really beef up the third stool, which is treatment. The number one thing that the federal government needs to do is stop opening our borders. We are being flooded – flooded – with fentanyl to the fact that now I think we had over 110,000 deaths last year alone. That trajectory is going up. And why do we know that more fentanyl was coming in? Because the price of fentanyl has gone in half the last three years. In an environment of increasing demand, even the price still plummets because it's being flooded in across many of our borders, but also particularly our southern border.

Medical Economics: Physician burnout has become epidemic within health care. Do you support the “Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act?”

Rep. Greg Murphy, MD: Truth be told I'm not quite sure about that particular bill. That said, I've witnessed physician burnout for years, I've been in practice for 35 years. What really worries me is the burnout of young physicians, people who've been out of medical school and residency five years. So, what are we teaching those individuals about medicine? Are we selecting the right individuals to go to medical school, people who can't tolerate the intensity of being a physician? I think that's a major problem in our medical schools right now, because if people under 40 are complaining about burnout, we're picking the wrong people to go into medical school. And so yeah, it's tough, but you're taking care of patients. You knew the job when you signed up for it. You were always supposedly a hard worker and I believe that physician is the greatest field that you would want to go into. But you know, what if you're getting burned out at 40, you picked the wrong field.

Medical Economics: Our main audience is primary care physicians. What would you like to say to them, or what would you like them to know?

Rep. Greg Murphy, MD: I think they have one of the toughest jobs in medicine because you're on the front lines, you're having to deal with so many different disorders. You literally cannot know everything about everything. And it's just it's difficult because I know reimbursement for primary care physicians is much lower than it should be. We should not be pitting primary care folks against surgeons when it comes to being paid. It's absolutely absurd. We need more and more primary care physicians who honestly will take Medicare in some of the other regions. So, my hat's off to you. This is an entire team approach. It takes different position players and primary care folks are at the top.

Related Videos