The distinguished drug policy researcher Brendan Saloner, produced this letter at change.org defending medication-assisted therapy after HHS Secretary Price criticized treatments such as methadone and Suboxone as “just substituting one opioid for another.”
Six hundred of us in the field signed the letter (see below). The Secretary’s comments are inconsistent with scientific consensus, summarized in this year’s Surgeon General’s report on addiction, supporting MAT as a first-line treatment for opioid disorders: to prevent overdose, to reduce criminal offending, to prevent HIV transmission, and more. Over the past several months, my colleagues and I have been researching state approaches to substance use disorder treatment across the country. Democrats and Republicans across the political spectrum have worked effectively to expand access to medication-assisted therapies. Secretary Price’s comments are not representative of this consensus.
Secretary Price’s comments were also part of a larger pattern that alarms many members of the medical and public health communities. As a recent editorial put things in the New England Journal of Medicine,
[Secretary] Price has sponsored legislation that supports making armor-piercing bullets more accessible and opposing regulations on cigars, and he has voted against regulating tobacco as a drug. His voting record shows long-standing opposition to policies aimed at improving access to care for the most vulnerable Americans. In 2007–2008, during the presidency of George W. Bush, he was one of only 47 representatives to vote against the Domenici–Wellstone Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which improved coverage for mental health care in private insurance plans. He also voted against funding for combating AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis; against expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program; and in favor of allowing hospitals to turn away Medicaid and Medicare patients seeking nonemergency care if they could not afford copayments.
I’ll just leave things there. The change.org letter appears below the fold.
Unequivocal support for medication-assisted treatment from HHS Secretary Price
A community of over 600 practitioners and researchers have signed a letter to ask Secretary Price to unequivocally support medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Here is the link.
Dr. Price made concerning statements about medication-assisted treatments for opioid use disorder during a visit to West Virginia. Dr. Price stated that these treatments are “just substituting one opioid for another.” These views reflect a critical misunderstanding of the value of these treatments and damage a public health response to the opioid epidemic.
Signatories include some of the most widely recognized experts in the field of addiction medicine, including deans of schools of public health, editors of major journals, authors of landmark studies, and leaders from the world of practice and advocacy.
We stand together to express our commitment to science-based approaches to treatment of opioid use disorder and to secure a commitment from the Trump Administration to advance the policies that we know will help to stem the tide of this devastating epidemic.
We ask Dr. Price and the Trump Administration to unequivocally support medication-assisted treatment, and to embrace public health strategies that we know can reduce opioid overdose deaths.