Medication Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Timothy D. Fensky, RPh, DPh, FACA, Former NABP President

NABP continues to promote pharmacist-provided medication treatment for patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD) from the 2020 presidential initiative of Timothy D. Fensky, RPh, DPh, FACA. This initiative builds on the efforts of the state boards of pharmacy to combat the opioid crisis over the past decade. Furthering existing NABP efforts, including PMP InterConnect, an interstate prescription monitoring data resource, and safe.pharmacy, a consumer-focused website highlighting safe medication practices, is also an important aspect of this initiative.

After launching his initiative in 2020, Fensky’s efforts lead to several successes with the support of the NABP Executive Committee and membership: 

  1. Urging Congress to pass legislation, including the MAT Act that passed the House in June 2022 to allow states to recognize pharmacists as medication treatment providers for patients with OUD; 
  2. Working with NABP members to review applicable language found in The Model State Pharmacy Act and Model Rules of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (Model Act); and 
  3. Creating a task force to review strategies to drive change on this issue. 

Continuing the Initiative 

NABP is continuing to work on this important issue. Increasing awareness and speaking out about the opioid epidemic are crucial steps to furthering the medication treatment initiative and reducing OUDs. More information about medication treatment for OUD can be found in the below resources: 

About Medication Treatment for OUD

A combination of behavioral counseling and the use of certain prescription medications, medication treatment is most commonly used for OUD. This treatment uses prescription medications both in the initial detoxification and the long-term follow-up to suppress withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. The medications are intended to help patients re-establish normal brain function and prevent relapse along with behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, few OUD patients have access to treatment due to barriers including the social stigma, cost, and lack of education.

The federal government has prioritized expanding access to medication treatment for OUD as an important element in reducing OUDs and overdoses. Because pharmacists are considered to be among the most accessible and trusted of health care providers, they are in a unique position to allow OUD patients to have greater access to medication treatment.