The NIH announced in April that $1.1 billion dollars will be spent on research and developing newer medications to fight drug addiction.

Here is how I would allocate the funds: $100 million for research and $1 billion to find out why medications are not used in the treatment of addictive disorders!

I am being sarcastic. Has anybody stopped to think why we have just five, let me repeat just five medications to treat upwards of 23 million people impacted by drugs and alcohol. Less than 20% of these patients receive medications as part of treatment. Can you think of the treatment of any other chronic condition that has such as sorry record. Every new medication, approved for the treatment of addictive disorders is either rejected, slandered or ignored or restrictions placed on the usage. Methadone was the first drug approved for the treatment of opioid addiction but the medication can only be administered in a highly regulated clinics. Do we still need those restrictions. The federal government developed two other medication, LAAM and naltrexone and they are barely used. Buprenorphine was approved in 2002 for the treatment of opioid addiction but restriction were placed on its use. As a result less than 4% of US physicians have obtained the required DEA exemption. Do we really need those restriction.

At the height of the opioid and cocaine epidemic, we were promised radically different medication including vaccines. What happened? The federal agencies should funds on standardizing treatments similar to the treatment of a whole host of other chronic conditions like cancer, AIDS/HIV, diabetes. We need an even bigger push to greatly increase the use of the present medications by lifting the restrictions placed on the use of methadone and buprenorphine. It is simply not enough to talk about MAT and no action. Our present treatment is firmly entrenched in the past.

Percy Menzies, M. Pharm., President of ARCA

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