Expand access to medications for opioid use disorder

November 2023

stylized image of person pouring pills from bottle into hand

An estimated 2.5 million Americans live with opioid use disorder yet only 11.2% received medication treatment in 2020

Methadone, a synthetic, long-lasting opioid agonist, is a gold standard medical treatment for OUD. Methadone is the most well-studied pharmacotherapy for OUD, with the longest track record. It is safe and effective for patients when indicated, dispensed, and consumed properly. 

However, fewer than 1,816 programs provide methadone to approximately 409,000 Americans. In other words, methadone programs in the U.S. are straining to serve the people who need their services.

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Remove access barriers to methadone

During the COVID pandemic, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) allowed – and now permanently allows – opioid treatment programs (OTPs) to provide take-home methadone doses. Research on the methadone COVID flexibilities showed no evidence of increased methadone overdose or diversion

Responsibly expanding access to methadone treatment for OUD in medical settings and areas where it is not available now is critical to saving lives, helping families, and strengthening our communities. Further, expanding access to methadone outside of OTPs will help decrease the stigma people experience when seeking treatment by integrating it into the health care system.

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Support the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act (MOTAA)

The Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act (H.R. 1359 / S.644):

  • Creates a legal mechanism for addiction specialist physicians to prescribe methadone for OUD treatment that can be picked up at pharmacies.
  • Requires the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to create a new registration process for such prescribers of methadone.
  • Fixes the contradictory policy that addiction physicians can prescribe and pharmacies can dispense methadone for pain but cannot for OUD. Passing MOTAA thus decriminalizes methadone prescribing for OUD.
  • Establishes additional federal safeguards for such prescribers. 
  • Allows counselors and other ancillary service providers to provide telehealth support.

Policy Letter

Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act would save lives by expanding methadone access

Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act would save lives by expanding methadone access Read letter to Congress