In Fight Against Opioid Addiction, Congress Focuses on Treatment, Not Restricting Access

In Fight Against Opioid Addiction, Congress Focuses on Treatment, Not Restricting Access
Congress is focusing on expanding treatment for opioid addiction instead of restricting access to painkillers in its efforts to address the opioid epidemic, The New York Times reports. Legislators seem to be willing to allow opioid prescriptions to remain widely accessible, the article notes. The U.S. House, after overwhelmingly approving 18 bills last week aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, will work with the Senate to craft compromise legislation. The bills would increase prescription drug monitoring and treatment; fund efforts to dispose of prescription drugs; and assist states that want to expand the availability of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. The Senate bill would expand the availability of medication-assisted treatment, including in criminal justice settings, and would support treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Last month, Congress passed a measure, signed by President Obama, that limited the powers of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to go after pharmacies and wholesalers...
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Some States Limiting Prescribing of Opioids

Some States Limiting Prescribing of Opioids
Some states are limiting how opioids are prescribed, in an effort to reduce the number of deaths from prescription painkillers, The New York Times reports. These states are frustrated by a lack of action by the federal government. Last week legislators in Massachusetts passed a measure that would limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply after surgery or an injury. The Massachusetts Medical Society supported the seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions. “Usually we are opposed to carving anything in stone that has to do with medical practice,” said Dr. Dennis Dimitri, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “But we are willing to go forward with this limitation because we recognize this is a unique public health crisis.” Vermont and Maine lawmakers are considering similar measures. Governors are scheduled to meet this summer to develop a plan to reduce the use of opioids painkillers, the article notes. “If we could adopt policies...
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Doctors Still Overprescribing Addictive Drugs Despite Warnings

Doctors Still Overprescribing Addictive Drugs Despite Warnings
Doctors who write many more prescriptions than their peers for potentially addictive drugs, such as opioids or stimulants, are not likely to reduce the number they write after they receive a warning from the government, a new study finds. The study looked at prescribers who were writing many more prescriptions for potentially addictive drugs than prescribers in similar specialties who practiced nearby, Reuters reports. “Even though we weren’t able to show that the letters were effective, this information is still useful for policymakers,” lead researcher Adam Sacarny of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University said in a news release. “Based on these results, we’re now experimenting with different letter designs and making other changes to see if another approach can yield reductions in overprescribing.” Sacarny told Reuters that previous research has found sending letters to doctors comparing them to their peers can encourage them to vaccinate their patients....
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