CEPOP, MAPDA Webinar Series Registration – NOW LIVE!

Last week, the teams at CEPOP and MAPDA began circulating links to the registration portal for the upcoming policy webinar series focused on the intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic and national opioid epidemic. Recognizing impacts felt by from the COVID-19 pandemic across the below topics, the webinars will aim to foster more effective and sustainable policy action. As additional information is made available for each session, we will be sure to pass that along.

As a recap, the topics to be covered over the course of five weeks (beginning July 20th) include:
  • Monday, July 20th (3:00pm – 4:00pm): Digital Health Interventions and Telemedicine
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, new or revised authorities and technologies are being leveraged to help ensure continuity and availability of evidence-based care for the treatment of pain and substance use disorders. How is this being implemented throughout the nation?
  • Monday, July 27th (3:30pm – 4:30pm): Policy Changes to Medication-Assisted Treatment
    To address stay-at-home and self-isolation policies, federal regulators have expanded take-home opportunities for MAT prescriptions as well as initiation of new treatment modalities. This webinar will explore the new framework and its active integration into the current care paradigm. Please note the slight change in timing for this webinar to account for the July 2020 CEPOP All-Participants Teleconference.
  • Monday, August 10th (3:00pm – 4:00pm): Addressing Access and Utilization of Opioid Overdose Reversal Medications
    Recognizing the changes in prescribing policy and availability for prescription opioids and medication-assisted treatment, there remains an increasingly important need for access to overdose reversal medications. The panel will discuss options for improving this condition and preventing unnecessary overdoses.
  • Monday, August 17th (3:00pm – 4:00pm): Addressing Excess Medications in the Home
    With the primary point of care now being in the home, additional considerations should be given to addressing and mitigating the risk of excess controlled substances. How do SUPPORT Act and other authorities enable this element of the response?

View the webinar invitation for more information. You may also visit this link for more information or to register. Please reach out to Matt Rubin with any questions, follow-up or series speaker suggestions!

White House Announces Launch of Rural Community Toolbox to Help Combat Drug Abuse

Wednesday marked the release of the White House’s Rural Community Toolbox, aimed at collating a series of resources, literature, and related information targeting the drug abuse epidemic in rural communities nationwide. The Toolkit brings together more than a dozen federal agencies to help prescription and illicit drug misuse and abuse and help improve the availability and utilization of treatment and recovery services.

“The new Rural Community Toolbox is a manifestation of the commitment by President Trump, Vice President Pence and 16 Federal departments and agencies to help combat the scourge of drug addiction, improve access and quality of treatment, and ensure local leaders are equipped with resources to wage a frontline battle in the opioid and poly-drug crisis roiling our nation,” said Senior White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway.

On the release of the Toolkit, HHS Secretary Alex Azar noted, “Rural America has suffered greatly from our country’s drug overdose crisis, and the Trump Administration and HHS have focused attention and resources on strengthening the rural response…I have been inspired by the commitment and resilience I’ve seen from rural communities fighting back against the crisis. We are equipping these communities with resources like the Rural Community Toolbox to help them continue the fight and connect Americans to evidence-based prevention and treatment services.”

Articles & Resources

White House Newsroom – Trump Administration Empowers Rural Communities with New Resource to Combat Drug Addiction

Rural Community Toolbox

Rural Community Toolbox Fact Sheet

Data Releases Highlight Continued Opioid Utilization, Deaths of Despair

Two publications were released this past week that highlight the continued evolution of the prescription opioid epidemic and utilization of pain medication. On Wednesday, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics released Data Brief No. 369 which outlined the continued utilization of prescription opioids during 2015-2018. The data demonstrated that approximately 11% of adults (over the age of 20) had used a prescription pain medication – both opioid and non-opioid – within the previous month; nearly 6% of respondents having used a prescription opioid at any time during the surveillance. While utilization of non-opioid pain medications increased as compared to 2009-2010 data (at 5.7% from 4.3%), the rate of prescription opioid use has remained relatively consistent. While down from a peak of over 7% in 2013-2014, historical use is largely unchanged: approximately 6.0% (2009-10) and 5.7% (2017-18).

The Journal of the American Medical Association also released the results of a longitudinal survey and tracking study set to track key indicators of despair and concurrent impacts on suicidal thoughts and behavior, substance use, and other instances of drug misuse and abuse. With more than 1,400 individuals participating in the study first launched in 1992, the results indicated that despair was linked to some, but not all, “deaths of despair” throughout Appalachia, including suicidal thoughts and behavior, opioid misuse and other illicit drug use. Increased prevalence of alcohol use disorder was not tied to despair.

Articles & Resources

CDC National Center for Health Statistics – Data Brief No. 369: Prevalence of Pain Medication Use Among Adults: United States, 2015-2018

Journal of the American Medical Association – Associations of Despair with Suicidality and Substance Misuse Among Young Adults

DOJ Announces $42 Million to Address Illicit Drug Supply

The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday the anticipated release of $42 million through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) that would support state law enforcement efforts to combat the manufacture and distribution of illicit narcotics and other drugs of abuse, such as methamphetamine. The Anti-Heroin Task Force Program received nearly $30 million to be distributed among 14 state task forces with a focus on addressing high rates of substance misuse and abuse (including heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and other opioids). A series of twelve state task forces will divide another $12 million through the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP) targeting precursors and finish products spanning the production and distribution pathways. Both programs will be active for a period of three years.

Articles & Resources

DOJ Newsroom – Department of Justice Announces $42 Million to Combat Illegal Manufacture and Distribution of Methamphetamine and Opioids

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

POLITICO – Swamped Mental Health and Addiction Services Appeal for COVID Bailout

Boston Globe – Pharmacy That Was State’s Largest Recipient of Opioids to Pay $11 Million in Settlement

Morning Consult – Despite the Challenges, We Must Fight Harder to Address the Nation’s Opioid Epidemic

Law360 – Choosing Between Pandemics, Judge Halts Drug Injection Site

Colorado Public Radio – The Hidden Costs of Coronavirus Are the Lives Lost to Addiction, Mental Health Crises

New Hampshire Department of Insurance  – NH Insurance Department Cautions Insurers Regarding Opioid Overdose Reversal Prescriptions

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia – Owner and Operator of Tennessee Drug Screening Lab Plead Guilty to Health Care Fraud

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia – Baxley Pharmacist Sentenced to Four Years in Federal Prison for Conspiracy Involving Healthcare Fraud, Opioids

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia – Former Union General Hospital CEO and Two Blairsville Doctors Sentenced to Federal Prison for Illegally Prescribing and Obtaining Pain Pills

U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts – Wellesley Physician Agrees to Pay $25,000 to Resolve Allegations that he Violated Controlled Substances Act

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida – Former Jacksonville Healthcare Worker Sentenced To Five Years In Federal Prison For Opioid Distribution Conspiracy

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma – Doctor Charged with Illegally Distributing Controlled Substances Which Resulted in the Death of Three Patients

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa – Eastern Iowa Nurse Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing Patient’s Pain Medication

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas – Arlington Doctor Charged with Drug Distribution Conspiracy, Fraud

This Week’s Calendar

Please see below for the relevant hearings and events next week. In the instance that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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