Registration Reminder! CEPOP-MAPDA Webinar Series on the Confluence of COVID-19 and the Opioid Epidemic

According to recent federal data, suspected overdose deaths related to prescription and illicit opioid use has begun to rise in the month’s following declaration of the national emergency. With those numbers nearing a 50% increase in May, and even exceeding that in some jurisdictions, it remains critical that stakeholder identify, develop and implement policies aimed at better facilitating care and related interventions for individuals with substance use disorders.

CEPOP and MAPDA are continuing to encourage CEPOP participants and allies to continue registering 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.

For additional information or to register for the series, please visit the  event page. Beyond the speakers provided below, additional updates are forthcoming regarding a great set of panel discussions!

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? Speakers for this session will include: Dr. Jeffrey Gudin (Practical Pain Management), Samantha Holcombe (National Council for Behavioral Health), and Tania Malik (American Telemedicine Association). Additional speakers forthcoming.</>
  • 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. Confirmed speakers for this session include: U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-22), DEA Diversion Control Section Chief Claire Brennan, and several national leaders set to speak to the implications of new COVID-19 specific policy changes.
  • 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?

Please reach out to Matt Rubin with any questions, follow-up or series speaker suggestions!

Publications Highlight New Nuances in the Epidemic Response

Research published in both the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of the American Medical Association this week highlights the continued evolution of our national response to the opioid epidemic. In NEJM, researchers released findings associated a “secret safe injection site” that has been operating for more than five years. According to the report, the facility has not experienced any fatal overdoses (33 in total) with more than 10,500 patient visits. As cities such as Seattle and Philadelphia consider implementing such programs, these findings serve as an initial evidence-base to better understand the potential risk/reward of such policy change.

In JAMA, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania undertook a longitudinal review of muscle relaxant prescribing in the United States since 2005 finding that use has nearly tripled over that period of time. Between 2005-2016, office visits for ongoing therapy related to muscle relaxant use spiked from approximately 8 million to nearly 25 million. Nearly one-quarter of these patients were over the age of 65. While at potential risk for adverse events related to concomitant use, nearly two thirds of patients receiving a muscle relaxant also were prescribed an opioid during the course of care.

Articles & Resources

New England Journal of Medicine – Evaluation of an Unsanctioned Safe Consumption Site in the United States

Journal of the American Medical Association – Assessment of Physician Prescribing of Muscle Relaxants in the United States, 2005-2016

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 – ‘Cries for Help’: Drug Overdoses Are Soaring During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Guardian – ‘Opioid Overdoses are Skyrocketing’: As COVID-19 Sweets Across US an Old Epidemic Returns

Kaiser Family Foundation – Mental Health and Substance Use Fact Sheets

Associated Press – Safe Injection Sites May Curb Opioid Deaths, Report Suggests

The Detroit News – Michigan to Give Opioid Antidote for Free to Community Groups, Residents

Los Angeles Times – Coronavirus Crisis Disrupts Treatment for Another Epidemic: Addiction

Star Tribune – ‘Left with Nothing’: Funding Shortfall Cancels Minnesota’s Opioid Response Grant

Fortune – Why COVID-19 is Worsening the Opioid Epidemic

STAT News – A New Tool Aims to Help Patients Sort Through 200 Mental Health Apps—And Counting

Federal Register – FDA Submission for OMB Review: Healthcare Providers’ Understanding of Opioid Analgesic Abuse Deterrent Formulations

Department of Justice – Former CEO of Tennessee Pain Management Company Sentenced for Role in Approximately $4 Million Medicare Kickback Scheme

Department of Justice – Universal Health Services, Inc. And Related Entities To Pay $122 Million To Settle False Claims Act Allegations Relating To Medically Unnecessary Inpatient Behavioral Health Services And Illegal Kickbacks

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York – Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Nurse Practitioner for Illegally Distributing Oxycodone from Bronx Clinic

This Week’s Calendar

With FY21 Appropriations markups taking over the majority of the activity next week and other Members back home in-district, there are no relevant hearings or markups scheduled at this time. 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].