President Barack Obama has tackled the opioid epidemic this week by telling health care providers across the country that access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) must be expanded.
He released an order giving federal agencies with health care responsibilities 90 days to identify barriers to MAT and to come up with ways to remove them. “Only a small minority of Americans who might benefit from this treatment are receiving it,” the order notes.
The order is designed to reverse historic treatment trends that focused on a model of abstinence, in which any prescription medication aimed at addressing a patient’s opioid use disorder was forbidden.
In February, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced that drug courts, which barred addicts from receiving MAT, would no longer receive federal funding.
One of the goals outlined by the White House is to double the number of physicians who are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine from 30,000 to 60,000. These medications, in combination with counseling support, are the “most effective standard of care” and far too few doctors prescribe such care, according to the White House.
In September, Health and Human Services Secretary, Sylvia Burwell, announced that the government would be rewriting regulations to boost access to buprenorphine.
Titan Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TTNP) is awaiting an FDA approval decision next February for its six-month Probuphine implant containing buprenorphine to treat opioid dependence.