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 led to several successes with the support of the NABP Executive Committee and membership:
- Worked with other organizations and met with leaders in Congress to encourage passage of legislation, including the MAT Act, that will remove federal barriers to accessing medication for OUD and allow states to recognize pharmacists as medication treatment providers for patients with OUD;
- Implemented recommended changes to applicable language found in The Model State Pharmacy Act and Model Rules of the National Association of Boards of pharmacy (Model Act) after it was reviewed by NABP members and;
- Held 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:
- Learn more about the passage of the MAT Act, which was signed into law in December 2022 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2022, in our news release.
- Provide patients with resources on prescription medication misuse and abuse by sharing information from NABP’s consumer website safe.pharmacy and following our NABP for-patients Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Read about the opioid epidemic and latest death toll rates in our blog post
- Read how pharmacists can expand medication treatment access for patients with OUD in our blog post.
- Discover the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists‘ substance use disorder toolkits, including one specific to treating OUD, for pharmacists.
- Explore tools from The One Rx Program that can equip pharmacists in screening patients prescribed an opioid medication and provide education, resources, and support to ensure safe medication use. One Rx collaborates with pharmacies, community organizations, and state boards of pharmacy to expand patients’ access to naloxone.
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.