April 9

The Problem of Prescription Opioids

Prescription opioids provide much needed relief to people in acute pain, but are also widely misused, leading to addiction and over one thousand overdose deaths per month. As the annual number of prescriptions has soared to over 200 million, policymakers have been struggling with how to limit the risks of these medications while at the same time keeping them available for people in pain. In this Stanford Health Policy Forum, addiction medicine expert Anna Lembke, M.D. and pain medicine expert Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D., will debate and discuss how to balance the benefits and costs of prescription opioids.

Keynote Speakers

Anna Lembke, MD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University

Dr. Anna Lembke received her undergraduate degree in Humanities from Yale University and her medical degree from Stanford University. She is on the faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine, a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and a diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. She is the Program Director for the Stanford Addiction Medicine Program and Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic.

 More about Anna Lembke

She has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles, chapters, and commentaries, including in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Addiction. Dr. Lembke sees patients, teaches, and does research. She is currently working on a book on prescription drug abuse.




Sean Mackey, MD, PhD

Immediate Past-President, American Academy of Pain Medicine & Chief, Division of Pain Medicine, Stanford University

Under Dr. Sean Mackey’s leadership, researchers at the Stanford Pain Management Center and the Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Laboratory (SNAPL) have made major advances in the understanding of chronic pain as a disease in its own right, one that fundamentally alters the nervous system. Dr. Mackey has overseen efforts to map the specific brain and spinal cord regions that perceive and process pain, which has lead to the development of a multidisciplinary treatment model that translates basic science research into innovative therapies to provide more effective, personalized treatments for patients with chronic pain.

 More about Sean Mackey

Dr. Mackey received his BSE and MSE in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and his MD and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Arizona. In 1994 he completed his anesthesia residency and a fellowship in pain medicine at Stanford. Since 2007, Dr. Mackey has served as Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and director of the fellowship program in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine. 



Paul Costello

Chief Communications Officer at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Paul Costello is Chief Communications Officer at the Stanford School of Medicine.

 More about Paul Costello

Paul Costello is a veteran communications strategist with a background in government, the corporate sector and academia. He came to Stanford in 2004 from the University of Hawaii, where he served as the vice president for external affairs and university relations. In Hawaii, he hosted a weekly public affairs show on PBS Hawaii. Costello has been a spokesman for First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Ohio Governor Richard Celeste, Washington D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and Kitty Dukakis during the 1988 presidential campaign. He holds an MSW from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.



Paul Berg Hall, 230C
Li Ka Shing Center

Join the Mailing List

Join the mailing list to get emailed when new events are up. All you need to do is to send us an email with the subject line "Join the Mailing List."