The Medical Association of Alabama hosted its annual meeting on November 18-19, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama. The focal point of this gathering was the renowned “Prescribing and Pharmacology of Controlled Drugs Conference,” marking the 15th year of its occurrence and the 45th presentation of the 12-hour Prescribing and Pharmacology course. This conference attracted a substantial attendance of around three hundred healthcare providers from across the southeastern United States, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas.
The conference served as a vital platform for healthcare professionals to delve into crucial aspects of prescribing practices and the pharmacology of controlled substances. With its long-standing tradition, the event has consistently provided an opportunity for medical practitioners to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field and enhance their understanding of safe and effective prescribing methods.
At the conference, we paid tribute to three individuals who have devoted extensive efforts to combat the opioid crisis in Alabama, Dr. Buddy Smith, Dr. Jerry Harrison, and Dr. Steven Furr. Regrettably, Dr. Furr was unable to be with us due to his demanding role as the newly elected President of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
It is often said that noticing an issue is easy, but taking decisive action is the real challenge. Over the course of the last fifteen years, these gentlemen have dedicated forty-seven weekends away from their families to educate healthcare providers on the judicious prescribing of controlled medications. This commitment goes beyond the weekends, as they have also invested countless hours on the planning committee, ensuring not only the coverage of highly relevant topics but also the selection of expert faculty for these courses. Since 2009, over ten thousand prescribers in Alabama have successfully completed the Prescribing course.
We also recognized Richard Tucker, a Consultant with Drug Education Consulting Group in Huntsville, NC, and a former U.S. DEA Special Agent for his outstanding contributions. The association bestowed upon him an award in acknowledgment of his eight years of dedicated service in sharing his time and knowledge at the Prescribing of Controlled Drugs Conferences. Tucker’s expertise and commitment have played a pivotal role in enhancing education and awareness surrounding controlled substances, reflecting his significant impact on the medical community’s understanding and responsible prescribing practices.
We were honored to commemorate their achievements. According to recent data released by the American Medical Association, the total opioid prescriptions dispensed in Alabama during their tenure have decreased by 43.7%, and the total dosage strength, measured in morphine milligram equivalents, has decreased by 55.4%. These statistics bear witness to the tangible impact these individuals have had on alleviating the opioid crisis in Alabama.
On behalf of the Board of Censors of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, and in sincere appreciation of their many years of dedicated leadership, service, and commitment to addressing the opioid crisis in Alabama, we were honored to present them with these well-deserved awards.