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Obama to announce drug policy changes

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President Barack Obama on Wednesday will announce new steps to help stem the flow of prescription opioid analgesics and ease the path to treatment for people fighting opioid addiction.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday will announce new steps to help stem the flow of prescription opioid analgesics and ease the path to treatment for people fighting opioid addiction. Obama will issue a memorandum to federal departments and agencies requiring them to provide training to doctors and nurses who work for the federal government on how to properly prescribe opioid medications. Also, federal agencies that provide health insurance will have to review their health plans to see if there are barriers or restrictions that prevent patients from accessing medication-assisted treatments for opioid abuse. If there are restrictions preventing people from getting those treatments, agencies will have to address those. The directives apply only to federal agencies—not private doctors or insurance plans—but the White House wants to set an example for private providers. Obama also will announce commitments from more than 40 health care groups to help make treatment more available and to train more doctors in properly prescribing opioids. They have agreed to double the number of providers that can prescribe naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. CVS Health and Rite Aid also have committed to increasing the availability of naloxone.

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