Markey Commends Obama Administration Efforts to Expand Treatment and Education for Opioid Addiction

Senator’s bipartisan legislation with Senator Paul to expand medication-assisted therapies recently passed key Senate health committee

Atlanta (March 29, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today commended the announcement from the White House that it is calling for an expansion of specialized treatment for prescription painkiller and heroin addiction and training of medical school students using the newly-released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prescriber guidelines for opioids. President Obama and Senator Markey are speaking at this week’s National  RX Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

“I thank President Obama for taking these important steps to address the opioid crisis. If we are going to reduce the supply for heroin, fentanyl and illicit prescription drugs we have to reduce the demand through treatment.

 

“Coming from a state that is disproportionately impacted by this scourge, I believe we should do as much as we possibly can, as soon as we can, to expand treatment to those who need it most. I thank the President for responding to my call to act administratively to address limitations on medication-assisted therapies for opioid addiction, but there is more to do. I have worked with Senator Paul to introduce the TREAT Act to help remove barriers to effective treatment for opioid addiction by addressing outdated federal restrictions on medication-assisted therapies like buprenorphine. The current artificial caps on treatment not only hurt access, they reinforce the stigma associated with addiction and create a false paradigm that accessing treatment for substance use disorders should be different than for any other chronic illness. I urge Senate leadership to bring this important bipartisan legislation to the floor for a full Senate vote.

 

“We also need to ensure that any prescriber signing a prescription for opioid painkillers understands the full impact that prescription may have on the life of a patient. While we need to commit to educating the next generation of doctors, we must also address the over-prescription problem today by mandating education for all prescribers of prescription opioids. Passing legislation to require safe prescribing education is an important part of the prevention of opioid overdoses that are taking lives by the hundreds everyday.”

Last year, Senators Markey and Paul introduced The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act (S.1455), which would expand the ability of opioid addiction medical specialists and other trained medical professionals to provide life-saving medication-assisted therapies such as buprenorphine (also called Suboxone) for patients battling heroin and prescription painkiller addiction. Senator Markey also introduced the Safe Prescribing of Controlled Substances Act, which would require prescribers of opioid pain medications and other controlled substances to undergo mandatory training on safe prescribing practices and the identification of possible substance use disorders.

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