Our August FED UP Rally included a press event at the National Press Club calling for FDA removal of high dose opioids, a networking luncheon for partners to share advocacy practices, and a march to the White House and a candlelight vigil for hundreds of our followers. We believe our voices are being heard and reflected in a number of important addiction-fighting developments this fall.
First, we have seen FDA Commissioner Gottlieb publically announce a change in approach for the future review of abuse-deterrent opioid formulations, known to be equally addictive and risky as other formulations, to ensure they produce ANY meaningful decrease in the frequency of misuse and addiction. We also note, with approval, recent strong endorsement of the use of medication-assisted treatment as THE standard of care for the treatment of opioid SUD. The FDA Commissioner correctly testified before the Congress in September that patients receiving MAT coupled with therapeutic support “cut their risk of death in half.” FED UP’s platform has consistently supported expanded access and removal of barriers to buprenorphine and we will continue to do so in 2018.
We welcome the FDA Commissioner’s renewed commitment to reconsider the appropriateness of opioid drugs, commitments to review the process for addressing total risks of opioid drugs and required physician training related to prescribing and use of opioids. We will remain vigilant in 2018 to ensure FDA honors those commitments as well as positively responds to the FED UP Coalition-endorsed petition developed by Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to remove high dose opioids from the market immediately.
Second, the FED UP Coalition was pleased the President honored past commitments to declare an opioid public health emergency on October 26. The declaration is a needed step to ensure the public hears directly from the nation’s chief executive that we are in the midst of an unparalleled health crisis and that federal, state and local government coordinated action are needed to bring the devastation to an end. However, the declaration, disappointedly, did not indicate a commitment of federal resources were forthcoming.
The FED UP Coalition does not accept a re-shuffling of existing federal programs to bring the crisis to an end. We will continue to demand resources on a par with other past public health threats which included billions appropriated by our federal government to combat the Ebola virus that never reached our shores, the Zika virus which affected limited areas of our country and Avian Influenza that never took flight in the US.
Finally, the FED UP Coalition was pleased the President’s Commission released a final report on November 1 with over 50 recommendations for action by the Administration. Among those recommendations were calls for:
- Allowing government regulators to compel health insurers to meet requirements of parity laws which ensure addiction treatment equivalent to coverage of mental health issues – the afflicted and their families should not be left alone to ensure health insurers comply with the law.
- Reducing barriers to coverage of non-opioid solutions for the treatment of pain – past federal regulations limited reimbursement for effective alternative pain management solutions.
- More aggressively fighting to reduce importation of fentanyl/fentanyl analogues which are exploding overdose deaths throughout the country – fentanyl was implicated in over 40% of last year’s opioid-related overdose deaths.
- Expanding telemedicine approaches to bringing mental health and addiction treatment to underserved areas of the country – less than half of America’s 2,000 counties have a single mental health professional or MAT-authorized provider.
- Making access to medication-assisted treatment a cornerstone to addressing the crisis starting first in federal practice settings – ample clinical evidence exists proving greater recovery rates through effectively managed and monitored medication-assisted treatment approaches.
The President’s Commission recommendations are contained here:
As Congressman Tim Ryan, co-chair of the House Addiction Treatment and Recovery Caucus, recently said after the release of the President’s Commission Report, “there are many actions that can help mitigate this crisis, but at the end of the day, Congress must invest more money.” The FED UP Coalition strongly agrees.
Followers are encouraged to contact their members of congress to demand needed federal investment, especially to protect current and expand future treatment coverage. What our nation is doing is not working. Until and unless we develop the national will to fight the national public health emergency destroying thousands of individuals and families across America, we will continue to see ever expanding loss of life. Congressional member contact information is available on the website.
Thank you for your support!