Statement and letter from Shatterproof founder and CEO after the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released their policy recommendations.

WASHINGTON, DC – Shatterproof Founder and CEO Gary Mendell today released the following statement and letter after the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released their policy recommendations.

“It’s encouraging to see the White House take additional steps to address this crisis. I hope they continue to build off President Trump’s declaration last week, and the Commission’s report today, by fully implementing all of their proposed recommendations. They should especially prioritize implementing improved provider education, adoption of the CDC guideline, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) access and expanded naloxone use.

“However, today’s recommendations fail to address comprehensive addiction treatment. The country needs a national standard of care for addiction treatment programs. That’s why the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force, which Shatterproof is proud to be a part of, will release National Principles of Care next week to lay out an action plan for improving the quality of treatment programs in the United States.”

The full text of the letter follows.

President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Trump,

We want to take this opportunity to congratulate the White House and members of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis for your efforts to address this epidemic. The decision to declare a public health emergency and the release of the Commission’s report are first steps in acknowledging the severity of the crisis.

The Commission’s report includes many well thought out and strong recommendations. However, none of these recommendations will make a difference in the lives of Americans until they are fully implemented by the federal government. As such, we urge your administration to implement all of these recommendations fully and promptly.

If implemented, these recommendations will help reduce the devastation of this disease. However, what is missing is a comprehensive initiative addressing the lack of quality treatment in our country.

Substance use disorder is a chronic brain disease that can be managed with the same effectiveness as other chronic diseases. However, many treatment facilities offer sub-par treatment and few are able to provide the full spectrum of effective treatment options. In 2015, less than 30 percent of specialty addiction treatment facilities offered any medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opiate use disorder.

Recognizing this gap in quality treatment programs, in April 2017 Shatterproof convened the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force, a public-private initiative, to improve access to interventions for the 21 million Americans with substance use disorders. This involves implementing some of the strategies included in the Commission’s report, in addition to establishing National Principles of Care that can serve as a standard of quality for substance use disorder treatment.

In September, we convened the largest health insurers in our country for a day-long meeting, and for the first time in history, they agreed to 1) finalize National Principles of Care within eight weeks, and 2) once finalized, to identify, promote and reward care that aligns with that standard of care.

Taking a businesslike approach, the Task Force will next begin to execute an actionable list of interventions across the medical spectrum, engaging insurers, providers and patients to meet our shared goals. This will significantly improve both access and addiction treatment quality in our country, saving lives, improving health outcomes and reducing criminality and costs. We would like to extend the opportunity to the federal government to work with the Task Force to quicken the pace at which this initiative is being implemented.

Unlike most in this field, I spent the majority of my career building and operating businesses. My life was uprooted when my older son Brian became addicted to opioids. Through eight years and eight different “treatment” programs, I experienced first-hand what we call treatment in our country. I later learned that while we have a wealth of knowledge proven to help those facing addiction, tragically the research simply isn’t being implemented.

All of this led me to leave my day-to-day responsibilities at my business and form Shatterproof. It led me to convene the Task Force and to approach every insurer in the country. And it is what led me to write to you today, urging you to quickly adopt the recommendations issued by the Commission and to work with the Task Force to expand the quality of treatment in our country. We have lost too many lives already, but by working together, Republicans and Democrats, federal and state governments, businesses and families, we can save countless others.

Sincerely,

 

Gary Mendell

Founder & CEO, Shatterproof

www.shatterproof.org

 

About Gary Mendell:

Gary Mendell is the founder and CEO of Shatterproof. He founded Shatterproof to spare others the tragedy his family suffered with the loss of his son Brian to addiction in 2011. Mr. Mendell is an experienced businessman and CEO who founded HEI Hotels & Resorts and is the former president of Starwood Lodging Trust.

About Shatterproof:

Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastation the disease of addiction causes families. Shatterproof works to end the stigma and foster a community of support, providing evidence-based resources to support prevention, treatment and recovery. Shatterproof advocates for changes in policy at the federal and state level and supports the development and implementation of evidence-based solutions for substance use disorders.

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