A lack of acknowledgment by key stakeholders in the healthcare system that medications can treat opioid abuse, along with a fragmented reimbursement system, means that effective treatments aren’t getting to the majority of patients who need them, exacerbating the opioid crisis.
Although the three classes of medications on the market for opioid use disorder all reduced relapse and improved patient outcomes in clinical and observational studies, only a small fraction of patients are given these therapies, according to a study published March 20 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
“To stem the opioid crisis, it is critical for all FDA-approved options to be available for all people with opioid use disorder,” wrote the authors.
The report cites at least four impediments to uptake of the treatments: lack of access, social stigma, a failure to educate healthcare professionals about the benefits of marketed pharmacotherapies, and disjointed reimbursement models for large parts of the patient population -- such as those who are incarcerated or homeless.
The report was commissioned by NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),