Study Looks at Role of Medication-Assisted Treatment Started in the ER


A new study will assess whether starting medication-assisted treatment in the emergency room within hours of an opioid overdose will prevent people from relapsing after they recover. Researchers at Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic and Inova Fairfax Hospital received a $1 million grant to conduct the study, The Roanoke Times reports. Participants treated for opioid overdoses in the emergency room will be asked if they want to participate in the study. If they consent, they will receive an injection of Sublocade, an extended-release form of buprenorphine, a drug that reduces opioid cravings. Sublocade was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in November. It is the first ever buprenorphine injection for the treatment of moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder in adult patients.

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FDA Encourages Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will encourage widespread use of medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, the agency’s commissioner said recently. The FDA has approved three medication-assisted treatment drugs: buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. A report issued last year by Pew Charitable Trusts concluded that medication-assisted treatment is the most effective way to deal with opioid use disorder. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, appearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said, “Unfortunately, far too few people who are addicted to opioids are offered an adequate chance for treatment that uses medications. In part, this is because insurance coverage for treatment with medications is often inadequate.” In his remarks, Gottlieb noted that some people may need medication-assisted treatment for years, if not for their entire lives. He said the FDA will issue guidance to drug manufacturers to promote the development of new addiction treatments, The Washington Post reports.

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Increasing Availability of Medication-Assisted Treatment Using Buprenorphine


Many people who need treatment for substance use disorders are not receiving it. Though there are many physicians with waivers to provide buprenorphine for medication-assisted treatment, they tend to be clustered in and around urban centers,leaving many rural counties without access to treatment. In fact, 60.1 percent of rural counties in the United States lack a physician with a DATA 2000 waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. To widen the availability of medication-assisted treatment using buprenorphine, the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act authorized SAMHSA to allow nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to apply for waivers to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction. To receive the DATA 2000 waiver, NPs and PAs must complete 24 hours of training (triple the 8 hours required of physicians). To make training more accessible to NPs and PAs, including those in remote areas, SAMHSA offers the training free through the Providers' Clinical Support System for...

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Medically Supervised Opioid Withdrawal an Option for Pregnant Women


While medication-assisted treatment is the recommended therapy for pregnant women addicted to opioids, medically supervised withdrawal is an option if a woman does not accept treatment, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said this week. Medically supervised opioid withdrawal should be done under the care of a doctor experienced in perinatal addiction treatment, ACOG stated in a news release. In the past, it was thought that stopping opioids during pregnancy was too risky for the fetus and mother, CNN reports.

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Few Young People Treated for Opioid Addiction Get MAT


Only 27 percent of youths treated for opioid addiction receive buprenorphine or naltrexone, known as medication-assisted treatment, a new study finds. “These medications are considered the evidence-based standard of care for opioid addiction by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said lead researcher Dr. Scott Hadland of Boston University School of Medicine. Buprenorphine (sold as Suboxone) has been shown to reduce cravings, while naltrexone (sold as Revia and Vivitrol) blocks the high from opioids, HealthDay reports. The rate of opioid addiction among teens and young adults shot up almost sixfold between 2001 and 2014, the researchers note in JAMA Pediatrics. Hadland said one reason so few young people receive medication-assisted treatment is that too few pediatricians and family doctors are trained in how to treat opioid addiction. “In light of the national opioid crisis, it’s really now more important than ever to ensure that providers are receiving the training,” he said.

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Aetna Embraces Medication to Combat Opioid Crisis


Aetna is going all in on medication-assisted treatment in response to the opioid epidemic, according to a letter CEO Mark Bertolini is sending today to a handful of Democratic senators. Bertolini highlights three goals the insurer hopes to achieve by 2022: Reduce inappropriate opioid prescriptions by 50%.Increase by 50% the number of opioid addicts treated with medication-assisted treatment and other evidence-based treatments.Increase the number of enrollees with chronic pain who use alternative pain treatments by 50%. Go deeper: Aetna's embrace of medication-assisted treatment is a sharp contrast from some insurers' previous reluctance to cover the approach, which Bob Herman covered for Modern Healthcare. It also follows Tom Price's controversial comment saying medication-assisted treatment is "substituting one opioid for another."But Aetna has already worked to make medication more available: Earlier this year, it removed all pre-authorization requirements for certain products and put them on a preventive medicine list that reduces cost-sharing for...

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Few Teens Treated for Opioid Addiction Get Medication-Assisted Treatment

Few Teens Treated for Opioid Addiction Get Medication-Assisted Treatment

Only 2.4 percent of teens in treatment for heroin addiction receive medication-assisted treatment, a new study finds. In contrast, 26.3 percent of adults received treatment with addiction medications such as methadone or buprenorphine, Reuters reports. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found only .4 percent of teens in treatment for prescription opioid addiction receive medication-assisted treatment, compared with 12 percent of adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises doctors to consider medication-assisted treatment for teens with severe opioid use disorders. “There’s more that needs to be done across the board to facilitate access to these treatments when they’re medically necessary,” lead researcher Kenneth Feder told Reuters. “The best validated treatment for somebody struggling with an opiate addiction is treatment that includes some sort of medication assistance.” The study appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Want to learn more about What Is Medication-Assisted Recovery? Click here.

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