American Medical Association Meeting
American Medical Association Meeting
June 14, 2018
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AMA urges removal of opioid treatment barriers

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Delegates at the AMA annual meeting approved several policies, including eliminating barriers to medication assisted therapy, that it says will help fight the opioid epidemic, according to a press release.

To curb the opioid crisis, the delegates approved policies that will enable the AMA to:

  • Urge the elimination of administrative barriers to medication-assisted therapy, including prior authorization that causes delays or denials of care.
  • Urge the enforcement of mental health and substance use disorder parity laws.
  • Support legislation to ensure patients have access to all FDA-approved medications or therapies in all settings such as drug treatment clinics or facilities.
  • Call for a public campaign that increases awareness that medication-assisted therapy is a first-line treatment for opioid use disorder.
  • Work with relevant organizations to determine best practices to treat opioid use disorder as a chronic disease.
  • Encourage states to assess programs that have received government funding to assist communities, hospitals and clinicans to coordinate care for patients with opioid use disorder.
  • Support the expansion and improved access to evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders during pregnancy.
  • Ensure practicing clinicians, physicians-in-training, and medical students, are provided education on opioid prescribing.

“[Physicians] must fight to end stigma surrounding substance use disorder and medication assisted treatment, which has been shown to decrease overdose mortality, reduce transmission of infectious disease, and reduce general health care expenditures,” Patrice A. Harris, MD, AMA president-elect and chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, said in the release.

Despite studies showing buprenorphine prevents deaths from opioid use disorder, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration listing it as one of three medications “commonly used to treat opioid addiction,” access to buprenorphine is not universal.

For example, a previous study found that fewer than one in three rural physicians who have a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine do so. Another study found that for every 40 family practice physicians who prescribed opioid painkillers, there was just one family practice physician who prescribed buprenorphine-naloxone. – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine Harris’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.