HHS Announces Long-Term Opioid

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the release of a physician-focused guide to help discuss tapering or discontinuation of prescription opioids following long-term use. The guide emphasizes the need for ongoing dialogue among physicians and patients when the risk of continued prescribing exceeds the therapeutic benefit. Recognizing the risks associated with rapid tapering or discontinuation of opioids, the guideline provides a set of instances where reduction, tapering or discontinuation would be warranted and specific considerations, dialogue, and individualization required to provide evidence-based and clinically appropriate care that will reduce risk and promote positive outcomes.

On the release of the guide, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, noted, “Care must be a patient-centered experience. We need to treat people with compassion, and emphasize personalized care tailored to the specific circumstances and unique needs of each. This Guide provides more resources for clinicians to best help patients achieve the dual goals of effective pain management and reduction in the risk for addiction.”


HHS Newsroom – HHS Announces Guide for Appropriate Tapering or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Use

Washington Post – New Guidelines on Opioid Tapering Tells Doctors to Go Slow

Ohio Bellwether Set to Begin Following Denial of AGs Request to Dismiss

On Tuesday, a judge for the Sixth Circuit in Ohio announced the rejection of several parties request to delay or outright dismiss the start of the Track 1 bellwether trial slated to begin later this month. Led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, these parties argued that the counties – Cuyahoga and Summit – were infringing on the state’s role in protecting its constituency. The last-minute attempt at intervening was rejected on the basis that the state failed to prove harm in proceeding with the bellwether trial and thus unable to obtain a writ of mandamus. Ohio General Mike DeWine stood opposed to the efforts of Yost to intervene.

Simultaneously, the Sixth Circuit also rejected efforts to have Judge Dan Aaron Polster disqualified from overseeing the trial, having appealed an earlier ruling. The defendants argued that Polster held a bias and was pushing towards a global settlement. The Sixth Circuit found that blame had been demonstrated across all parties and could not be directed towards and specific sector of the defendants.


Washington Post – Appellate Court Rejects Request to Halt Landmark Opioid Trial

Bloomberg – Opioid Litigation to Proceed Over Ohio AG’s Objection

SAMHSA Launches Recovery Housing Best Practice Tool

In alignment with Section 7031 of last October’s SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released last week a best practices and suggested guidelines toolkit on recovery housing for individuals with substance use disorders. The 10-page document helps to outline minimum standards that should be considered in the development of such programs, including: (1) Consider how recovery housing is able to support recovery and prevent relapse, recidivism, and overdose, including by improving access to medication assisted treatment, and  (2) Identify or facilitate the development of common indicators that could be used to pinpoint potentially fraudulent recovery housing operators.

In pursuance of that effort, the report provides ten areas that state policymakers and regulators may incorporate into the development of “safe, effective, and legal recovery housing.” Those 10 guiding principles include:

  1. Have a clear operational definition;
  2. Recognize that SUDs are chronic conditions requiring various components of recovery supports;
  3. Recognize, identify, and treat co-occurring mental disorders that accompany SUDs;
  4. Assess applicant needs and the ability of each residence to meet such needs;
  5. Promote the use of evidence-based practices;
  6. Develop and incorporate written policies, procedures and resident expectations into practices;
  7. Ensure the quality, integrity and safety of all residents;
  8. Learn and practice cultural competence;
  9. Maintain ongoing communications with healthcare providers and other parties integral to the coordination of care; and
  10. Evaluate program effectiveness, resident success, and make appropriate changes.

Articles & Resources

Recovery Housing: Best Practices and Suggested Guidelines

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

Articles & Resources

Washington Post – Judge Grants Purdue Pharma, Sackler Family Pause in Civil Lawsuits

E&C Republicans Newsroom – Walden, Guthrie and McKinley Press Administration, Opioid Distributors for Update on Report Recommendations

BloombergAddicted Babies, Blue Cross Drive Billions in New Purdue Claims

Associated PressVictims Gain a Voice to Help Guide Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy

Reuters – Cracks in Purdue’s Proposed Opioid Settlement as Arizona Backs Out

Associated Press – Alaska Doctor, Nurse Charged with Vast Opioid Distribution

VOX – His daughters needed drug rehab. $200,000 later, this addiction treatment worked.

STAT News – With a New Guide to Tapering Opioids, Federal Health Officials Seek a Balanced Approach to Prescribing

Boston Globe – US Urges Shared Decisions with Patients Taking Opioids

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri – Four Health Care Professionals Indicted for Stealing Controlled Substance Medications for Their Own Personal Use

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky – Houston, TX Man Sentenced to 27 Months For Shipping Misbranded Prescription Drugs to Oldham County

House and Senate Set to Return from Recess on Tuesday

The House and Senate return to Washington for business as usual on Tuesday, October 15th. At this time, there are no relevant hearings or events related to opioids on the calendar. Should there be any additions to House or Senate schedules or updates with respect to additional events, this information will be made available.

SCREENING: Heroin’s Grip
Hosted by Representatives Jamie Raskin and David Trone
Wednesday, October 16th, 121 Cannon HOB, 10:00am – 12:00pm
Please RSVP to Josie Feron or Tyler Adamson

Questions about the above content can be directed to [email protected].