Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy (PLNDP) was formed in July 1997, when the members came together and agreed on a Consensus Statement.

Consensus Statement

Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy - July 9, 1997

Addiction to illegal drugs is a major national problem that creates impaired health, harmful behaviors, and major economic and social burdens. Addiction to illegal drugs is a chronic illness. Addiction treatment requires continuity of care, including acute and follow-up care strategies, management of any relapses, and satisfactory outcome measurements.

We are impressed by the growing body of evidence that enhanced medical and public health approaches are the most effective method of reducing harmful use of illegal drugs. These approaches offer great opportunities to decrease the burden on individuals and communities, particularly when they are integrated into multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches. The current emphasis -- on use of the criminal justice system and interdiction to reduce illegal drug use and the harmful effects of illegal drugs -- is not adequate to address these problems.

The abuse of tobacco and alcohol is also a critically important national problem. We strongly support efforts to reduce tobacco use, including changes in the regulatory environment and tax policy. Abuse of alcohol causes a substantial burden of disease and antisocial behavior which requires vigorous, widely accessible treatment and prevention programs. Despite the gravity of problems caused by tobacco and alcohol, we are focusing our attention on illicit drugs because of the need for fundamental shift in policy.

As physicians we believe that:

  • It is time for a new emphasis in our national drug policy by substantially refocusing our investment in the prevention and treatment of harmful drug use. This requires reallocating resources toward drug treatment and prevention, utilizing criminal justice procedures which are shown to be effective in reducing supply and demand, and reducing the disabling regulation of addiction treatment programs.
  • Concerted efforts to eliminate the stigma associated with the diagnosis and treatment of drug problems are essential. Substance abuse should be accorded parity with other chronic, relapsing conditions insofar as access to care, treatment benefits, and clinical outcomes are concerned.
  • Physicians and all other health professionals have a major responsibility to train themselves and their students to be clinically competent in this area.
  • Community-based health partnerships are essential to solve these problems.
  • New research opportunities produced by advances in the understanding of the biological and behavioral aspects of drugs and addiction, as well as research on the outcomes of prevention and treatment programs, should be exploited by expanding investments in research and training.

Our membership consists of 37 distinguished physicians from virtually every medical specialty. They are leaders at academic and medical research institutions, hospitals, medical centers, and national professional societies across the U.S. We are privileged to have as members a Nobel Laureate and the former editor of Science, both the former and current editors of The Journal of the American Medical Association, and the editor of MEDSCAPEGEN. PLNDP leaders have extensive health care policy experience spanning the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton Administrations and include a former Secretary and two Assistant Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, the former chair of the President’s National Commission on AIDS, and a former U.S. Surgeon General. See Members for more details. The project activities are primarily funded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Members - Physician Leaders

June E. Osborn, MD (Chair)
Sixth President of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation. Former Chair of the U.S. National Commission on AIDS. Former Dean, University of Michigan, School of Public Health.

George D. Lundberg, MD (Vice Chair)
Editor-in-Chief, Medscape. Former Editor, JAMA. Former Professor and Chair of Pathology at the University of California-Davis. Past-President of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

David C. Lewis, MD (Project Director)
Founder, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University. Professor of Medicine and Community Health, Donald G. Millar Professor of Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

Errol R. Alden, MD
Deputy Executive Director of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago.

Jeremiah A. Barondess, MD
President of the New York Academy of Medicine and Professor Emeritus of Clinical Medicine at the Cornell University Medical College.

Floyd E. Bloom, MD
Chair and Member of the Department of Neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California. Former Editor, Science.

Thomas F. Boat, MD
Chair, Department of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Director of the Children's Hospital Research Foundation. Former Chair, American Board of Pediatrics.

Edward N. Brandt, Jr., MD, PhD
Director of the Center for Health Policy and Regents Professor of Internal Medicine and of Health Administration and Policy at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Former Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (Reagan Administration).

Lonnie R. Bristow, MD, MACP
Chairman, Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. Past President of the AMA.

Christine K. Cassel, MD
Chair, Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Professor of Geriatrics and Medicine. Past Chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine. Past President of the American College of Physicians.

Linda Hawes Clever, MD
Chair, Department of Occupational Health at California Pacific Medical Center. Medical Director of the Renewal Center for Healthcare Professionals of the Institute for Health and Healing. Past Editor, Western Journal of Medicine.

George D. Comerci, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Arizona College of Medicine. Former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Ambulatory Pediatric Association.

Richard F. Corlin, MD
Speaker of the American Medical Association House of Delegates. Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California- Los Angeles, School of Medicine. Past President of the California Medical Association.

James E. Dalen, MD
Vice-President for Health Sciences and Dean, College of Medicine at the Arizona Health Sciences Center. Editor, Archives of Internal Medicine. Past President, American College of Chest Physicians.

Catherine D. DeAngelis, MD, MPH
Editor, JAMA.

Spencer Foreman, MD
President of Montefiore Medical Center and Past Chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Willard Gaylin, MD
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Co-founder of the Hastings Center. Former President and Chair of the Hastings Center and currently a member of the Board of Directors.

H. Jack Geiger, MD
Arthur C. Logan Professor and Chair, Community Health and Social Medicine, City University of NY Medical School. Founding member and Immediate Past President of Physicians for Human Rights and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Contributing Editor, American Journal of Public Health. Former Chair, Department of Community Medicine, Tufts University Medical School.

Alfred Gellhorn, MD
Director, Aaron Diamond Foundation Post Doctoral Research Fellowships in AIDS and Drug Abuse. Former Director of Medical Affairs, NY State Department of Health. Founding Director Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, Vice President Health Affairs - City College of New York.

David S. Greer, MD
Dean and Professor Emeritus of the Brown University School of Medicine and Founding Director of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Howard H. Hiatt, MD
Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Senior Physician at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. Secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and directs the Academy's Initiatives for Children program. Former Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Jerome P. Kassirer, MD
Former Editor, New England Journal of Medicine. Professor and Former Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. Past Chair, American Board of Internal Medicine.

David A. Kessler, MD
Dean, Yale Medical School. Former Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration (Bush and Clinton Administrations).

Philip R. Lee, MD
Senior Advisor and Professor Emeritus School of Medicine, University of California- San Francisco. Former Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. (Clinton Administration). Former Director and Founder of the Institute for Health Policy Studies, UCSF. Former Chancellor, UCSF.

Joseph B. Martin, MD, PhD
Dean, Harvard Medical School. Former Chancellor, University of California - San Francisco.

Antonia Novello, MD, MPH
Health Commissioner, State of New York. Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health and Special Director for Community Health Policy. 14th Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Services (Bush Administration).

Claude H. Organ, Jr., MD
Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis-East Bay. Editor, Archives of Surgery. Former Director and Chair of the American Board of Surgery.

Robert G. Petersdorf, MD
Distinguished Professor of Medicine, University of Washington and Distinguished Physician, Veterans Health Administration. Past President of the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Physicians, and the Association of Professors of Medicine.

P. Preston Reynolds, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine and Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University.

Frederick C. Robbins, MD
Director, Center for Adolescent Health of Case Western Reserve University. Dean Emeritus at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and University Professor Emeritus. Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine. Former President, Institute of Medicine.

Allan Rosenfield, MD
Dean of the School of Public Health, DeLamar Professor of Public Health and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University. Chair, NY State Department of Health AIDS Advisory Council. Former Acting Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia University.

Stephen C. Scheiber, MD
Executive Vice President, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University Medical School, and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Seymour I. Schwartz, MD
Distinguished Alumni Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. President-elect and Chair of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons. Editor, Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Past President, Society for Clinical Surgery and the American Surgical Association.

Harold Sox, MD
Joseph M. Huber Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the Dartmouth Medical School. Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Initiative at Dartmouth. Immediate Past President of the American College of Physicians and Chair of ACP's Educational Policy Committee.

Robert D. Sparks, MD
Past President and Chief Executive Officer of the California Medical Association Foundation. President Emeritus and Senior Consultant for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Louis W. Sullivan, MD
President, Morehouse School of Medicine. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services (Bush Administration). Founding President of the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools.

Allan Tasman, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. President, American Psychiatric Association. President, American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry. Deputy Editor, The Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research.

Donald D. Trunkey, MD
Chair, Department of Surgery, Oregon Health Sciences University. Former Chief of Surgery at San Francisco General Hospital.

The PLNDP has undertaken two major Research Reports with leading researchers from around the country, one on “Addiction and Addiction Treatment,” and another on “Health, Addiction Treatment, and the Criminal Justice System.” The data from this research has been summarized in the PLNDP Action Kit, which consists of sample editorials by PLNDP members and annotated slides depicting the research.

The PLNDP has developed two videotapes which focus on a better understanding of addiction and the need for expanded treatment and prevention with supporting research–Drug Addiction: The Promise of Treatment; and Trial, Treatment, and Transformation.