United States president Barack Obama and his government’s administration announced a series of new measures to confront the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse and heroin.
President Obama assisted to a meeting in this year’s National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, where he was able to meet patients who are currently recovering from prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse.
During the meeting, Mr. Obama assured the determination of his government to attack the epidemic spreading across the country. New measures that include the expansion of drug treatment centers, were announced during the meeting.
The epidemic of deaths from prescription drug abuse and heroin has been increasing in the United States in the last three years. According to CNN, this continues to be the leading cause of unintentional death for Americans, increasing in a 14% from year 2013 to 2014. Taking the life of a citizen every 19 minutes.
“We are seeing more people killed because of opioid overdose than from traffic accidents, i mean think about that. It has to me something right up the top of our radar. Said President Barack Obama during the meeting.
The administration announced medication-assisted treatment for drugs as methadone and buprenorphine in addition to behavioral treatment, to help patients recover better from their addiction and eliminate the use of opioid drugs.
One of the main issues in the prescription of treatment drugs such as buprenorphine is the fact that only eligible doctors are able to prescribe the medication. According to CNN, there’s a limited number of doctors, which is right now about 30,000 in the whole country.
At the same time, eligible doctors are limited to prescribe buprenorphine to only 100 patients. Over the past few years, critics and doctors from public and private sectors have spoken up about this matter. Achieving another 2,200 certified physicians across the country to prescribe the drug.
The Obama administration increased the cap of buprenorphine patients to 200 per doctor and announced an amount of $11 million for medication assistance programs. Another amount of $94 million has been announced for the implementation of new treatment services in 271 health care centers.
The access to opioids overdose reversal drugs such as naloxone has been increased with an additional $11 million and a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force will be established in the country.
In February, the Obama administration announced a drug-related budget for 2017, that included $31.1 billion for federal drug control programs.