Weekend Round Up: NIH Launches HEAL Initiative, Missouri House Approves Bill to Fight Opioid Addiction and the Stimulant Epidemic

By: Jody Lutz

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Date: 04/16/2018

Filed Under: weekend round up

With opioid prescribing regulations being updated, national policy announcements, state guidelines as well as daily commentary regarding the opioid epidemic flooding news outlets, the AffirmHealth Weekend Round Up looks at the top headlines that caught our team’s eye. From controlled substance protocols to research focusing on pain management, addiction medicine, the ER and more provided to you in an easy to access summary. News you can use. Welcome to the Weekend Round Up.



April 4, 2018

NIH launches HEAL Initiative, doubles funding to accelerate scientific solutions to stem national opioid epidemic

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AffirmHealth Key Take Aways: At the 2018 National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced the launch of the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. Toward this effort, NIH is nearly doubling funding for research on opioid misuse/addiction and pain from approximately $600 million in fiscal year 2016 to $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2018, made possible from a funding boost by Congress. NIH’s efforts contribute to a government-wide push to meet the President’s goal of ending the opioid crisis.



April 15, 2018

The Washington Examiner

Can Washington Fix The Opioid Crisis?

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AffirmHealth Key Take Aways: Opioids kill five times more people than they did just under two decades ago. The number of bodies have overwhelmed pathologists, and some opioid deaths aren't counted as such because people mix heroin or painkillers with other drugs. This means that the government tally of 42,249 deaths in 2016 from opioids including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers such as OxyContin is likely low. Still, the number surpasses the 38,748 motor vehicle deaths or the 38,658 gun deaths also recorded in 2016.



April 12, 2018

The Washington Post

Drug Executives to Testify Before Congress About Their Role in U.S. Opioid Crisis

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AffirmHealth Key Take Aways: Current and former executives with the pharmaceutical distributors that are accused of flooding communities with powerful prescription painkillers have been summoned to testify before Congress about their role in the U.S. opioid epidemic. The hearing, scheduled for May 8 before a House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight panel, has the potential to be a defining moment for the pharmaceutical industry, much like when tobacco executives were called to testify before Congress in 1994. The pharmaceutical executives are expected to face tough questions under oath about why their companies pumped so many highly addictive pain pills into West Virginia and other states, fueling what has become the deadliest drug crisis in U.S. history.



April 11, 2018

The Kaiser Family Foundation

The Opioid Epidemic and Medicaid’s Role in Facilitating Access to Treatment

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AffirmHealth Key Take Aways: The opioid epidemic continues to escalate, with 1.9 million nonelderly adults having an opioid addiction in 2016.1 Opioid addiction is often associated with comorbid physical and mental health conditions and high levels of health care services utilization. These issues have worsened throughout the past decade as the opioid epidemic has escalated. In 2016, there were 42,249 opioid overdose deaths in the United States, more than quadruple the number in 2001, and the number of deaths from heroin and fentanyl have surpassed the number due to prescription opioids. The Trump administration has stated that addressing the opioid epidemic is a key priority.

The article presents the following summarizing points:

In 2016, 1.9 million nonelderly adults in the United States had an opioid addiction. Medicaid covers 4 in 10 nonelderly adults with opioid addiction. This brief examines Medicaid’s role in facilitating access to treatment for opioid addiction.

Key findings include:

· Among non-elderly adults with opioid addiction, those with Medicaid were twice as likely as those with private insurance or no insurance to have received treatment in 2016.

· Medicaid facilitates access to treatment by covering numerous inpatient and outpatient treatment services, as well as medications prescribed as part of medication-assisted treatment.

· States use Medicaid Section 1115 waivers and other program authorities to expand treatment options for enrollees with opioid addiction.

While additional states expanding Medicaid could increase coverage and access, support for new work and premium requirements could impose barriers to obtaining and maintaining Medicaid coverage that may compromise efforts to address the opioid crisis.



April 6, 2018

CATO Institute

From “Opioid Epidemic” to "Stimulant Epidemic”

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AffirmHealth Key Take Aways: Jeffrey A. Singer examines the impact of stimulants on the opioid epidemic, abuse of stimulants such as Adderal and Ritalin. Singer states, “The resurgence of stimulant abuse and overdose should not be viewed in isolation. It should be integrated with the opioid issue. Both should be viewed in the broader context of substance abuse in the presence of drug prohibition. Sociocultural and psychosocial factors may ultimately explain why the use and abuse of mind altering drugs is on the rise across much of the developed world. “



April 14, 2018

The Daily Journal Online

House Approves Bill to Fight Opioid Addiciton

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Affirm Health Key Take Aways: The Missouri House has voted to take more steps toward fighting opioid addiction with a focus on shifting the response to addiction from law enforcement and incarceration to treatment availability.

The main provision of the bill would create the “Improved Access to Treatment for Opioid Addictions” Program (IATOA). It would use assistant physicians - a position created by legislation passed in 2014 - to work in a collaborative way with licensed doctors to provide addiction treatment throughout the state. The assistant physicians would be supported by the ECHO program (Extension for Community Healthcare Options) – a program that uses videoconferencing to connect experts with providers statewide to help providers offer specialized care. The sponsor said the program would be among the first of its kind in the nation, and other states are already taking note of it and considering how to create their own.

Another of the bill’s main provisions would limit the amount of an opioid drug that could be prescribed to someone for acute pain to a seven-day supply. The provision is meant to keep people from becoming addicted while not limiting such drugs to those who rely on them for long-term pain management. The sponsor said, “The idea is to prevent people like the high school athlete who has a knee injury and the doc gives him 150 Percocet or whatever – it’s to nip that in the bud; prevent new people from getting addicted, but while acknowledging that there are people in our state that have chronic pain and they’re getting along pretty well.”

The bill would also create the Prescription Abuse Registry - a registry a person could voluntarily add himself or herself to – for individuals who have struggled with addiction.



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