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Effective Rx thwarted for deadly opioid epidemic
Date:6/21/2013

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- State governments and insurance companies are increasingly restricting the use of effective, FDA-approved medications that could help reverse the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths, according to the most comprehensive reports on opioid addiction medications released today by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

Approximately 4 million U.S. residents are addicted to prescription and illegal opioids. Nearly 15,000 people die every year from overdoses involving pain medications, more than die in drunk driving car crashes. Addiction is a treatable chronic disease with treatment success and relapse rates comparable to other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Opioid addiction is best managed with a combination of treatments, including behavioral interventions and medications. The FDA has approved three principal medications for treating opioid addiction: buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone.

"These reports show that we could be saving lives and effectively treating the disease of addiction if state governments and insurance companies remove roadblocks to the use of these medications," said Stuart Gitlow, MD, President of ASAM. "Treatment professionals need every evidence-based tool available to end suffering from this chronic disease. State lawmakers and insurance company administrators would never deny needed medication to people suffering from other chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension. But it happens every day to people with addiction."

Strong evidence of effectiveness
The report on effectiveness of opioid medications, conducted by the Treatment Research Institute, examined 642 unique studies that evaluated buprenorphine, methadone, oral naltrexone and injectable naltrexone. The report found that these medications show substantive evidence of effectiveness and safety.
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SOURCE American Society of Addiction Medicine
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