With opioid deaths increasing, AMA urges expansion of proven treatment

The American Medical Association (AMA) is urging policymakers to support proven approaches to treat opioid use disorder after CDC data showed a 10% increase in opioid deaths last year. AMA has called on all health insurance companies and other payers to remove barriers to high-quality, evidence-based treatment for patients with pain and those with opioid use disorder. "We know what works," said Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. "We can point to states where making access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) has been a priority, and the mortality rates are doing down … this epidemic will not be reversed until we deal with access issues and stigma associated with opioid misuse." Notably, the CDC figures showed that in states including Massachusetts, Utah, and New Mexico, aggressive public health campaigns helped reduce mortality rates. In Massachusetts, the state medical society adopted a policy advocating that inmates have access to all evidence-based recovery support services, including MAT; in New Mexico, health care professionals upped their use of the state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs by 39% last year; and in Utah, the state medical association released clinical guidelines on prescribing opioids for treatment of pain, recommending co-prescribing naloxone for patients at risk of overdose. "We need to act with resolve as we have with other public health epidemics," Harris said.

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