Statement attributed to:
Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA
Immediate Past Chair of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees
Chair, AMA Opioid Task Force
"The AMA enthusiastically supports Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb's efforts to advance policies and actions to treat those suffering from an opioid use disorder.
"Gottlieb's unequivocal endorsement of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) recognizes that this is a proven approach that saves lives. By encouraging wider, appropriate use of these safe and effective medications, the FDA will help families across the country.
"We also second his bold acknowledgement that criminal justice systems should offer MAT to those being detained. As he points out, 'At the very moment when the criminal justice system could be dramatically lowering the risk of overdose, it is creating the conditions of reduced tolerance to opioids that substantially raises the risk of death upon release.' With his clear explanation of the problem and solution, this situation can be remedied.
"Gottlieb recognizes that the development of new medications -and new formulations of existing drugs - offer hope for the treatment of opioid use disorders. He said for the first time, the FDA is developing a protocol to make MAT available at the point of care ‒ when a patient presents with an overdose.
"MAT access is limited by insurance obstacles and stigma. As he pointed out, public and private insurance coverage for treatment with medications is often inadequate and accessing FDA-approved addiction medications is challenging. While more states are adopting broader coverage, public insurance plans in some states still are not covering all three FDA-approved addiction medications.
"With the FDA on board, we hope patients with opioid use disorder will no longer encounter stigma simply because they require medication to treat their illness."