Join the January All-Participants Meeting at 3PM Eastern with Presentations from NIH and on NEMSIS

CEPOP will be hosting its January All-Participants Teleconference today at 3:00pm EST. Today’s meeting will include presentations from Dr. Rebecca Baker of the NIH on the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative and from Dia Gainor of the National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials and Ben Fisher of the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) Technical Assistance Center on how NEMSIS can help inform the opioid epidemic. Please contact Sanjyot Sangodkar for meeting details.

NIH Study Suggests Prescribing Flexibilities for Buprenorphine Treatment Did Not Lead to Increase in Overdose Deaths

A new study from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that opioid overdose deaths involving buprenorphine did not increase after prescribing flexibilities were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, heavy restrictions had been placed on dispensing buprenorphine, limiting its accessibility. However, buprenorphine became more available to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic due to new prescribing flexibilities, including allowing the treatment to be prescribed through telehealth services. NIDA and CDC researchers analyzed overdose data collected by the CDC’s State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) for 46 states and Washington, D.C. from July 2019 through June 2021 and found that buprenorphine involved-overdose deaths accounted for only 2.2% of the 89,111 overdose deaths. Researchers also saw that, as prescribing regulations eased and overdoses increased, the rate of buprenorphine-involved overdoses did not increase. Additionally, most buprenorphine-involved overdoses that were reported typically included at least one other drug. NIDA Director and senior author of the study, Dr. Nora Volow, stated, “Research has shown beyond a doubt that medications for opioid use disorder are overwhelmingly beneficial and can be lifesaving, yet they continue to be vastly underused. Expanding more equitable access to these medications for people with substance use disorders is a critical part of our nation’s response to the overdose crisis. The findings from this study strengthen existing evidence suggesting that greater flexibility in prescribing may be one safe method for working toward this goal.”

Articles & Resources

NIH – Overdose deaths involving buprenorphine did not proportionally increase with new flexibilities in prescribing

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Address Fentanyl Scheduling

On January 26th, Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-01), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), and Tony Gonzales (TX-23) introduced the Save Americans from the Fentanyl Emergency (SAFE) Act. At the end of last year, President Joseph Biden signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which extended the Drug Enforcement Agency’s temporary order to keep fentanyl-related substances scheduled as Schedule I drugs through December 31, 2024. The SAFE Act will define compounds that will be considered as fentanyl analogues, amend the Controlled Substances Act to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances that are not already exempted as a Schedule I drug, require that the Attorney General publish a list of fentanyl-related substances, allow the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct research on fentanyl-related substances, and require that the Government Accountability Office publish a report on the effects of permanently scheduling fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I. In a press release, Representative Chris Pappas said, “Permanently scheduling deadly fentanyl analogues is an essential step that will ensure law enforcement retains the tools they need to keep our communities safe and hold traffickers accountable for the harm they have caused.”

Articles & Resources

Congressman Chris Pappas – Pappas, Newhouse, Gonzales Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Fentanyl Trafficking

What We Read Last Week

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

Axios – Surging opioid overdoses prompt more Americans to carry Narcan spray

Boston Globe – Let pharmacists prescribe addiction medicine

Boston Globe – Making opioid addiction treatment available at pharmacies may dramatically increase positive outcomes, study shows

Clinical Pain Advisor – Buprenorphine May Be Preferred Over Methadone for Use During Pregnancy

CNN – Naloxone is reaching more people than ever

JAMA Network Open – Effect of Prescriber Notifications of Patient’s Fatal Overdose on Opioid Prescribing at 4 to 12 Months: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Journal of Clinical Oncology – Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Opioid Access and Urine Drug Screening Among Older Patients With Poor-Prognosis Cancer Near the End of Life

NHPR – A new law could make it easier to access an effective opioid addiction treatment in NH

Office of Governor Gavin Newsom – California Invests $52 Million in Opioid Prevention and Treatment

Physician’s Weekly – Evaluating the Link Between Opioid Overdose, Buprenorphine Treatment Gaps and Health Care Spending

Politico – Emergency’s end could curtail virtual prescribing

STAT – For addiction treatment, longer is better. But insurance companies usually cut it short

The Washington Post – How to safely dispose of old medications, according to experts

This Week’s Calendar

In the week ahead, there are no relevant events or hearings noticed at this time. In the event that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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