Challenges and Solutions - # 8 of 9 in a weekly series The Challenge: Increasing Reports of Methadone-Related Deaths
There were increasing reports of methadone-related deaths in 2002. A number of individual and state members within AATOD brought this to the attention of the AATOD Board of Directors. AATOD worked with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and SAMHSA/CSAT to focus on the problem. SAMHSA/CSAT convened the first Methadone Mortality Working Group in 2003, and published a groundbreaking report, demonstrating that OTPs were not primarily responsible for such reports of methadone-associated mortality. It represented the first comprehensive report to indicate that the use of methadone to treat pain had increased markedly through the distribution of pharmacy channels in the United States. Solution
SAMHSA/CSAT subsequently convened two national meetings and produced a second report in 2007. Findings were similar to the original 2003 report. The US Department of Justice – National Drug Intelligence Center published its own report in 2007 (“Methadone Diversion, Abuse, and Misuse: Deaths Increasing at Alarming Rate”) and the US General Accountability Office (GAO) publishing its own comprehensive report in 2009 (“Methadone-Associated Overdose Deaths – Factors Contributing to Increased Deaths and Efforts to Prevent Them”). Once again, the findings were remarkably similar to previous report findings. SAMHSA/CSAT also convened a symposium, “Methadone Mortality – A 2010 Reassessment”, during July 2010, and we anticipate that a written report will be published shortly. The DEA has also been a federal agency partner in the development of the Methadone Mortality Reports and worked with U.S. pharmaceutical companies to restrict the 40 mg methadone dispersible tablet sales to hospitals and Opioid Treatment Programs authorized to treat opioid addiction, effective January 2008. What May Have Happened If AATOD Had Not Acted
We believe that OTPs would be further marginalized in the United States and discredited as causing methadone-related deaths in the patient population. There would be increasing negative media reports against the siting of opioid treatment programs in the country, and we believe that OTPs would be further diminished since the federal reports would not have been initiated in 2003.
We are not bad people trying to become good, we are sick people trying to become well.
Methadone; A Flicker Of Light In The Dark
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