This Week's News in Substance Use: 11/10/17

Health Experts to Trump Administration: Treat Addiction Like a Disease, CBS News

“A group of public health experts say there is a "central flaw" in how addiction is treated and are calling for a change.

CBSN spoke to two individuals leading the task force urging a new approach: Tom McLellan, former deputy drug czar under the Obama administration and founder/chairman of the Treatment Research Institute, and Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit dedicated to stopping the devastating effects families feel from those with addiction. McLellan and Mendell on Wednesday released a set of eight recommendations for treating substance abuse called the “National Principles of Care.”

16 Insurance Companies Make Commitment to Address Opioid Crisis, Forbes

“If confronting the opioid crisis were like playing in the World Series, yesterday's announcement might be akin to hitting a home run, maybe even a Grand Slam.

On Wednesday, Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof; Dr. Thomas McLellan, former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Chris Hocevar, president (strategy, segments and solutions) of Cigna Corporation; and Mary Ann Christopher, vice president (clinical operations and transformation) of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey, announced that 16 major healthcare payers would adopt eight “National Principles of Care” for the treatment of addiction.”

Trump says he and China's Xi to try to end opioid crisis, Reuters

“U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would be focusing ‘very strongly’ on the U.S opioid crisis, which he has declared a public health emergency.

‘The president committed to taking new actions including agreements to control the export and movement of fentanyl precursors, sharing intelligence on drug trafficking, and exchanging trafficking information,’ [Secretary of State Rex Tillerson] added, referring to Xi.”

The White House Punted to Congress On Opioids Funding. Congress Doesn’t Have a Plan, STAT News

“With fewer than two dozen days left on the 2017 legislative calendar, a contentious tax cut pending, and the specter of a government shutdown looming in December, Congress is unlikely to create a major new stream of funding before the new year. Key House leaders are not formally discussing a major bill to accompany the president’s emergency declaration, even as they discuss other priorities for a year-end spending package.”

How Well-Intentioned Doctors Helped Create the Opioid Epidemic, Vox

“For a big chunk of the 20th century, doctors were really, really wary of opioids. They knew the drugs were addictive, and they mostly steered clear of them. But by the end of the 1990s, doctors were prescribing opioids in huge quantities. How did we make that shift?

We hear one version of this story a lot — a story about big pharma and dirty doctors pushing dangerous, addictive drugs. And yes, that’s part of it. But there’s also a policy story here.”

What’s Missing from the National Discussion About the Opioid Epidemic, The New Yorker

“As policymakers step up their efforts to check the opioid crisis, how can they best support the physicians on the front line? In August, two infectious-disease specialists at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where I also work, took up that question in the New England Journal of Medicine. ‘At some point, it became culturally acceptable to treat all conditions in a patient except addiction,’ Alison Rapoport and Christopher Rowley write. ‘It’s a diagnosis still frequently and falsely regarded as untreatable—a convenient assumption driven by the stigma against people with this disease.’ The authors tell the story of one of their patients, a Mr. C., who was struggling with opioid-use disorder and bacterial endocarditis. In consultation with Mr. C. and the hospital’s social workers, Rapoport and Rowley devised a successful course of treatment—regular doses of buprenorphine, an opioid that lessens the effects of withdrawal, along with counselling sessions and weekly group meetings. Like Mr. C. himself, they write, ‘the medical community is also in early recovery—moving past implicit biases, stigma, and fear to connect with our patients and respond to a defining crisis of our time.’ Only then, they add, can physicians begin to mend patients’ “badly damaged sense of trust in a medical system that has long treated them with judgment and neglect.’”

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