Methadone Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Examining Federal Regulations and Laws - A National Academies Workshop
Thu, 3 March, 2022 9:30am

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Workshop Details

  • Day 1 - March 3, 2022, 9:30am - 5:00pm ET
  • Day 2 - March 4, 2022, 9:30am - 4:30pm ET

About this Workshop

Opioid use disorder (OUD)—a chronic brain disease defined as a problematic pattern of opioid use (prescription opioids, fentanyl, heroin, or other illicit opioids) that leads to significant impairment or distress—imposes heavy costs on individuals, their families, and society. OUD is a life-threatening condition associated with a 20-fold greater risk of early death due to overdose, infectious diseases, trauma, and suicide. In 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses.

Methadone, buprenorphine, and extended-release naltrexone are safe and highly effective medications that are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat OUD (NASEM, 2019). By alleviating withdrawal symptoms, reducing opioid cravings, or decreasing the response to future drug use, these medications make people with OUD less likely to return to drug use and risk a fatal overdose. These medications also help people restore their functionality, improve their quality of life, and reintegrate into their families and communities. Unfortunately, however, most people who could benefit from medication-based treatment for OUD do not receive it, and access is inequitable across subgroups of the population.

Stringent laws and regulatory policies pose substantial barriers to provision of and access to methadone treatment. The 2019 National Academies report concluded that current regulations around methadone are not supported by evidence or imposed on life-saving medications for other chronic diseases. This workshop is designed to inform Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) efforts to address these challenges.

Workshop Objectives

A planning committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will organize and conduct a two-day public workshop that brings together experts and key stakeholders to examine the current federal regulatory and legal landscape regarding provision of and access to methadone for the treatment of opioid use disorder. 

Invited presentations and discussions will be designed to:

  • Examine current federal regulations governing methadone treatment services, including the current COVID-19 emergency regulatory relief; 
  • Discuss the impact of these regulations relative to other factors affecting treatment services; 
  • Explore potential options for modifying federal regulations and laws to expand access to quality treatment with methadone; and 
  • Explore state laws that may conflict with federal regulations. 
  • The planning committee will develop the agenda for the workshop, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. A proceedings of the presentations and discussions at the workshop will be prepared by a designated rapporteur in accordance with institutional guidelines.

Workshop Planning Committee

  • Alan Leshner, PhD, Chair, American Association for the Advencement of Science
  • Gavin Bart, MD, PhD, University of Minnesota
  • Richard Bonnie, LLB, University of Virginia
  • Magdalena Cerdá, DrPH, New York University
  • Abby Coulter, Urban Survivors Union
  • Bridget Dooling, JD, The George Washington University
  • Sheri Doyle, MPH, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Tracie Gardner, Legal Action Center
  • Helena Hansen, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Van Ingram, Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy
  • Matthew Lawrence, JD, Emory University
  • Gail Mattox, MD, Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Josiah "Jody" Rich, MD, MPH, Brown University
  • Danielle Russell, MS, Sonoran Prevention Works
  • Kenneth Stoller, MD, Johns Hopkins
  • Jonathan Watanabe, PhD, PharmD, MS, University of California, Irvine

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