Caleb Alexander, MD: Thoughts on the Opioid Epidemic

October 1, 2020
Jonathan Alicea

Jonathan Alicea is an assistant editor for HCPLive. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree with English and minors in Linguistics and Theater. He spends his free time writing plays, playing PlayStation, enjoying the company of his 2 pugs, and navigating a right-handed world as a lefty. You can email him at

A pharmacoepidemiologist offers his comments on the ongoing opioid epidemic.

The ongoing opioid epidemic is a pervasive issue that healthcare providers are working to address and ultimately curb. However, solutions are not necessarily straightforward despite progress that has been made in this domain.

In a recent interview with HCPLive®, Caleb Alexander, MD, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Medicine, explained that such a crisis of this magnitude stems from complex factors. Rather than being attributed to a singular problem or issue, the epidemic has many different facets that contribute to its prevalence and severity.

“There are certainly still enormous concerns regarding the prevalence of opioid use and the risk-benefit balance of prescription opioids in many settings in which they are used,” Alexander said.

Of course, prescription medication is not only the domain of opioids that healthcare providers are worried about. He also indicated that the use of heroin and illicit fentanyl is still of considerable concern.

Nonetheless, Alexander considered the general embracing of the opioid epidemic as a concept to be a fortunate and positive step in the right direction. Furthermore, there are many efforts that have been undertaken to improve the identification and treatment of those with opioid use disorder.  

“This is an area where primary care can especially play an important role,” Alexander concluded.