SPPCP applauds Congress for passing the MAT Act to prevent overdoses and support recovery.
December 30, 2022
Last week, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2023, which includes significant legislation to address the worsening overdose crisis. SPPCP applauds the passage of the bill and its Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act provision, which will remove federal barriers to medications for opioid use disorder, reduce stigma, and increase access to life-saving treatment that prevents overdoses and supports recovery.
Thank you to Reps. Paul Tonko, Mike Turner, Anthony Gonzalez, and Sens. 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. We also thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Leader Mitch McConnell, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone Jr. and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray and Ranking Member Richard Burr, and Rep. David Trone for their leadership in passing the MAT Act.
In 2021, the United States lost nearly 108,000 people to drug overdoses — an unfathomable tragedy. Each person who died from an overdose has 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 opioid use disorder. Overdose deaths are preventable through evidence-based treatment, including medication that prevents painful withdrawal symptoms and that stems opioid cravings. But due to outdated federal rules, only about 1 in 10 people in need receive medications for opioid use disorder, including buprenorphine, which is recognized as a gold standard of care.
These outdated federal rules include mandatory registration with SAMHSA and the DEA to prescribe buprenorphine, limits on the number of patients with opioid use disorder that health care providers can treat with buprenorphine, and other onerous requirements that stigmatize one of the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder, patients with the condition, and the health care providers who treat them. Due to these onerous federal rules, fully 40% of U.S. counties lack a single health care provider who can prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder.
The MAT Act removes these onerous, outdated federal rules and empowers all health care providers with a standard controlled medication license to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, just as they prescribe other essential medications. The MAT Act will help destigmatize a gold standard of care for opioid use disorder and will integrate substance use disorder 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 substance use disorder in securing recovery.
SPPCP is one of nearly 550 organizations that called on Congress and the White House to pass the MAT Act. This Congress, the MAT Act won more than 275 Democratic, Republican, and Independent cosponsors in the House (H.R.1384) and the Senate (S.445) – a testament to the policy’s overwhelming bipartisan support. Both President Biden’s and President Trump’s former Directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy called for Congress to pass the MAT Act. They joined the bipartisan U.S. 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.
Congress’ passage of the MAT Act is a significant step towards ensuring that everyone with substance use disorder receives the care they need to be well. SPPCP looks forward to President Biden’s signing of this bill that will open the doors of recovery to countless people in need.
SPPCP Statement on the Updated CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain
November 17, 2022
On November 3, the CDC released the updated Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain. This is a much-needed update and a step in the right direction. SPPCP supports all efforts to improve safe, effective, and accessible evidence‐based pain management, and as stated by the CDC, the 2022 Guideline should not be applied as inflexible standards of care across patient populations. The Society appreciates that the CDC has acknowledged the harms from the misapplication of the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in this updated version. The 2016 Guideline contributed to the perpetuation and worsening of stigma and judgment of patients prescribed opioids for pain and significantly challenged patients’ ability to access these medications. With the 2022 update, the Society agrees with the inclusion of clarifying language regarding intended clinicians, patient populations, pain types, and practice settings, as well as those for whom the guideline does not and should not apply. The emphasis that the guideline places on the importance of communication between clinicians and patients regarding the risks and benefits of opioid therapy is also noted and appreciated. Additionally, the statement that the 2022 Guideline is not intended for the creation of laws, regulations, and/or policies that dictate clinical practice or as substitution for FDA‐approved labeling is important to highlight and emphasize.
The Society is pleased to see that pharmacists are acknowledged in the 2022 Guideline as integral members of a collaborative care team. Pharmacists serve many roles in pain and opioid management and in numerous states serve as advanced practice providers with prescriptive authority under collaborative practice agreements. Opioid stewardship is also an essential function of pain and palliative care pharmacists. The work of the pharmacist has previously been impacted by the 2016 Guideline, and the Society will continue to advocate for and support patients, pharmacists, and other health care professionals whenever possible in light of the potential changes to practice that may be occur with these updated recommended.
Despite modified language and recommendations in the 2022 Guideline related to opioid dose thresholds, there is continued concern about the lack of focus on the importance of personalized care when managing pain. The 2022 Guideline supports the utilization of the lowest effective opioid dosage and encourages the prescribing of 50 morphine milligram equivalents or less as a new dose limit threshold. We support the emphasis on the lowest effective dose and remain concerned that the inclusion of any threshold may further restrict opioid prescribing when clinically indicated. The impact of these changes will need to be closely monitored to assess for any potential improvements and unintended consequences.
The vision of SPPCP is to provide patient-centered pain and symptom management across the care continuum with specialized pharmacists as an essential part of the care team. The Society will continue to promote exceptional inter‐professional, patient‐centered care and serves as a voice for excellence by advancing pharmacists practicing in pain, palliative care, and hospice.