Shortly before the new year, President Joseph R. Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2023, which includes significant legislation to address the worsening overdose crisis. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) applauds the passage of the bill and its Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (MAT Act) provision, which will remove federal barriers to accessing medications for opioid use disorder (OUD), reduce stigma, and increase access to lifesaving treatment that prevents overdoses and supports recovery.
“We are excited to see the many benefits to public health that the MAT Act will contribute as the law is implemented,” says NABP Executive Director/Secretary Lemrey “Al” Carter, PharmD, MS, RPh. “For example, this legislation ends outdated limits that have restricted health care providers from prescribing buprenorphine, a safe and proven treatment of OUD. With the MAT Act now signed into law, we are looking forward to working with our member boards of pharmacy to expand OUD treatment access in their states by granting pharmacists authority to prescribe medication-assisted treatment, similar to other state regulations already in place.”
We thank Representatives Paul Tonko, and Mike Turner, and Senators Maggie Hassan and Lisa Murkowksi for their sponsorship of the MAT Act and their tireless work to ensure that the bill was included in the omnibus.
In 2021, the US lost nearly 108,000 people to drug overdoses – an unfathomable tragedy. Each person who has died from an overdose left behind family members, friends, and communities. Without action, we are projected to lose one million more loved ones to drug overdoses by 2030.
The MAT Act will help turn the tide of the overdose crisis by saving thousands of lives from overdoses and supporting long-term recovery from OUD. Overdose deaths are preventable, as shown through evidence-based treatment, including medication that prevents painful withdrawal symptoms and that stems opioid cravings. But due to outdated federal rules, only about one in 10 people in need receive medications for OUD, including buprenorphine, which is recognized as a gold standard of care.
The MAT Act empowers all health care providers with a standard controlled substance license to prescribe buprenorphine for OUD, just as they prescribe other essential medications. The MAT Act will help destigmatize a standard of care for OUD and will integrate substance use disorder (SUD) treatment into primary care and behavioral health care practices, emergency departments, hospitals, and the health care system as a whole. By passing the MAT Act, Congress has acted to prevent future overdose deaths and support people with SUD in securing recovery.
NABP is one of nearly 550 organizations that called on Congress and the White House to pass the MAT Act. A testament to the policy’s overwhelming bipartisan support, the MAT Act won more than 275 Democratic, Republican, and Independent cosponsors in the House (HR 1384) and the Senate (S 445). Both President Biden’s and former President Donald J. Trump’s directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy called for Congress to pass the MAT Act. They joined the bipartisan US Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking in urging Congress to adopt the policy. The MAT Act was among the most broadly supported pieces of overdose prevention legislation introduced this session.
Implementation of the MAT Act is a significant step toward ensuring that everyone with SUD receives the care that they need to be well.