MOTAA would allow doctors outside of opioid treatment programs to prescribe methadone that could be picked up at a pharmacy

Washington (December 12, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) issued the following statement today after the Senate HELP Committee passed the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act (MOTAA), legislation to allow board certified addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry doctors registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prescribe methadone that patients could pick up at a pharmacy. The bipartisan legislation would represent the first major reform to methadone in half a century and is supported by hundreds of clinicians and medical organizations.

“Methadone for opioid use disorder is locked behind arcane laws that criminalize and stigmatize people in recovery. The experts and evidence are clear: this outdated system is costing lives, and we should no longer stand by as outdated federal law keeps people from treatment they need no matter where they live. We are pleased that my colleagues are joining with me in passing the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act. Together, we took an essential step toward reducing stigma, expanding access, and saving lives in communities all across the country. We will keep fighting until the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act is signed into law.”

In March, Senators Markey and Paul, along with Representatives Donald Norcross (NJ-01) and Don Bacon (NE-02) introduced their bipartisan and bicameral MOTAA. In December 2022, Senator Markey secured his bipartisan Opioid Treatment Access Act (OTAA)—legislation that reduces wait times for patients qualifying for methadone medication treatment and expands access to methadone clinics—into the end-of-year omnibus spending package. That same month, Senator Markey also applauded proposed changes by the Department of Health and Human Services to remove barriers to OUD treatment, such as allowing people to take home doses of methadone medication, which are key provisions included in the OTAA.