In December, President Biden signed the bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act. The measure makes buprenorphine – a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medication for opioid use disorder (OUD) – more readily accessible to people seeking treatment.
Significantly, the law will remove the requirement that a healthcare practitioner apply for a separate waiver through the Drug Enforcement Administration to dispense buprenorphine for opioid disorder treatment.
The passage was supported by the collective work of hundreds of people, including the Institute for Health’s own members. Dr. Stephen Crystal, Director of the Center for Health Services Research, Distinguished Research Professor, and Board of Governors Professor at Rutgers School of Social Work, Dr. Amesika Nyaku, IFH Associate Member and Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and Peter Treitler, IFH research project manager, participated in multiple Congressional briefings sharing their research and clinical expertise to highlight the need for the MAT Act.
“The enactment of the MAT Act is a vital step toward reducing the unacceptable toll of opioid overdoses in the US. In combination with other policy actions to engage and retain patients with opioid disorder in treatment with medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), and to make buprenorphine accessible at every point of contact where these patients encounter the health care system, the MAT Act will help expand the provider system for MOUD,” said Dr. Crystal.
The MAT Act was the most broadly supported overdose prevention bill this Congressional session and won more cosponsors than 99% of bills in the House of Representatives. The large push for the MAT Act resulted in its inclusion in President Biden’s State of the Union address and endorsements from The New York Times and The Washington Post.
According to End Substance Use Disorder, “the MAT Act will help integrate substance use treatment into the healthcare system and will equip states and local governments with a key tool to address the unique treatment needs of their communities.”
“By eliminating the need for special government registration for MOUD providers, it can help encourage primary care clinicians to incorporate MOUD into their management of their patients with OUD, reducing the stigma that has led to false perceptions that MOUD is a uniquely challenging treatment to manage in a uniquely challenging patient population whose treatment should be limited to a small, super-specialized system of providers separated from the mainstream health care settings that care for these patients’ other needs,” said Dr. Crystal.