Methadone Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: Examining Federal Regulations
Workshop Date and Time:
Day 1 | March 3, 2022 | 9:30am-5:00pm ET
Day 2 | March 4, 2022 | 9:30am-4:30pm ET
Where: Via webinar
On March 3-4, 2022, a planning committee of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized and conducted a two-day public workshop that brought together experts and key stakeholders together to examine the current federal regulatory and legal landscape regarding the provision of and access to methadone for the treatment of opioid use disorder.
Invited presentations and discussions were designed to:
- Examine current federal regulations governing methadone treatment services, including the current COVID-19 emergency regulatory relief;
- Discuss the impact of these regulations relative to other factors affecting treatment services;
- Explore potential options for modifying federal regulations and laws to expand access to quality treatment with methadone; and
- Explore state laws that may conflict with federal regulations.
Opioid use disorder (OUD)—a chronic brain disease caused by prolonged use of prescription opioids, heroin, or other illicit opioids—imposes heavy costs on individuals, their families, and society. OUD is a life-threatening condition associated with a 20-fold greater risk of early death due to overdose, infectious diseases, trauma, and suicide. In 2020, nearly 70,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses.
Methadone, buprenorphine, and extended-release naltrexone are safe and highly effective medications that are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat OUD (NASEM, 2019). By alleviating withdrawal symptoms, reducing opioid cravings, or decreasing the response to future drug use, these medications make people with OUD less likely to return to drug use and risk a fatal overdose. These medications also help people restore their functionality, improve their quality of life, and reintegrate into their families and communities. Unfortunately, however, most people who could benefit from medication-based treatment for OUD do not receive it, and access is inequitable across subgroups of the population.
Stringent laws and regulatory policies pose substantial barriers to the provision of and access to methadone treatment. The 2019 National Academies report concluded that current regulations around methadone are not supported by evidence or imposed on life-saving medications for other chronic diseases. This workshop is designed to inform the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) efforts to address these challenges.