WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced their bipartisan and bicameral Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act. The legislation will improve patients’ ability to access medication treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) by modernizing outdated rules, empowering board-certified physicians to prescribe methadone to patients, and allowing U.S. pharmacies to dispense methadone.
Methadone is a type of medication treatment for OUD that is effective in helping people maintain recovery and avoid diversion. While physicians can prescribe, and pharmacies can dispense, methadone for chronic pain, methadone for opioid use disorder is only available at Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs). OTPs can be difficult to access for many people, particularly those in rural regions, for individuals with limited access to transportation, and for patients in regions with few or no programs. Currently, there are no OTPs in Wyoming, Guam, North Marianas, the Federated States of Micronesia, and America Samoa; there is only one in South Dakota and the U.S. Virgin Islands; there are three in Nebraska; and four in Mississippi and Hawaii.
“As a physician, I know the value of the doctor-patient relationship. This bipartisan legislation will return treatment decisions to health care providers, who know their patients best. Doing so will be another important step toward combating the opioid epidemic that has caused so much harm in Kentucky and our nation,” said Dr. Paul.
“Our communities are shouldering not just an opioid crisis but also an overdose crisis. Parents are losing their children. Children are losing their parents. Yet, we are still making recovery harder with outdated rules that burden the very people we need to be providing care for,” said Senator Markey. “In too many states across the country, every morning people have to travel for miles and miles to reach a clinic—if there’s one around at all—where they line up behind other patients waiting to get the medication they need. If we want to beat these crises, we have to meet people where they are at with the resources they need. The Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act will reduce stigma and save lives.”
Senate cosponsors include Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).
In addition to expanding access to medication treatment, the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act would also require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration to provide an annual report of the number of providers registered to prescribe methadone, patients prescribed methadone for OUD, and a list of states where physicians are registered to prescribe methadone.
Endorsers of the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act include Addiction Professionals of North Carolina, AIDS United, Alabama Society of Addiction Medicine, American College of Academic Addiction Medicine (ACAAM), American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), American Society of Health System Pharmacists, Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists, Behavioral Health Association of Providers, California Consortium of Addiction Programs & Professionals, End Substance Use Disorder, Faces & Voices of Recovery, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center, Hampshire HOPE, Kennedy Forum, Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association (MHA), Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine (MASAM), National Coalition to Liberate Methadone, New Jersey Hospital Association, New York Society of Addiction Medicine, Northampton, Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services, Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region (MA), Partnership to End Addiction, Rhode Island Society of Addiction Medicine, Shatterproof, SMART Recovery, Tapestry Health Systems Inc. (MA), The National Safety Council, The Village Virgin Islands Partners in Recovery, Young People in Recovery, Virgin Islands Board of Pharmacy, Oregon Society of Addiction Medicine, AMERSA (The Association for Multidisciplinary Education and Research in Substance use and Addiction), and Connecticut Certification Board.
You can read the bill HERE.