Pharmacy News

Dr Marie Sartain
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Study highlights urgency of removing access to OUD meds

Researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine say 86.6% of people living with opioid use disorder (OUD) in the United States are not receiving medications proven to reduce opioid overdoses, including methadone, buprenorphine, and extended-release naltrexone. Their study, published in International Journal of Drug Policy, looked at differences between new estimates of OUD prevalence and the use of medications for OUD (MOUD) at the national and state levels from 2010 to 2019.

The use of MOUD increased by more than 100% over the last decade, but this rise in treatment failed to keep pace with OUD and surging overdose mortality rates that have been primarily attributed to fentanyl.

“We need to rethink how treatment for opioid use disorder is delivered, eliminate stigma, [and] make it easier for people to enter and remain in treatment as well as ensure that all treatment programs provide and encourage use of evidence-based medications that we know save lives,” the researchers wrote in a news release.

Noa Krawczyk, PhD, lead study author and assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Population Health and a member of the Center for Opioid Epidemiology and Policy at NYU Langone, noted that more than 70% of residential treatment programs nationwide do not offer MOUD.

Facilitating access to MOUD may include removing special waiver requirements to allow more physicians to prescribe buprenorphine and increasing the use of MOUD among mobile health clinics, community-based organizations, and the criminal justice system. Making methadone less controlled and more accessible through avenues other than highly regulated opioid treatment programs is essential, Krawczyk added.

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