AMCP Addiction Treatment Advisory Group to Identify Barriers, Improve Access to Treatment Services

Alexandria, Va., October 23, 2015 — The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy recently held a kick-off meeting of its newly formed Addiction Treatment Advisory Group (ATAG), which will evaluate current gaps and barriers to addiction treatment services and develop recommendations to improve patient care.

The ATAG will draw on the expertise of roughly 20 national leaders from a wide range of organizations, including behavioral health organizations, outpatient treatment centers, nonprofit advocacy groups, health plans, pharmacy benefit management companies, specialty pharmacies, employers, hospitals and manufacturers. The ATAG is sponsored by Alkermes, Inc.; kaléo, Inc.; Precision Toxicology; and the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW).

Prescription drug abuse, especially with opioid analgesics, is the fastest-growing drug problem in the U.S., according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Last year, a record 27 million people aged 12 or older (10.2 percent of Americans) used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, according to a September 2015 SAMHSA report. Of this total, 4.3 million people reported nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers. Of the 41,340 drug overdose deaths in 2011 in America, 41 percent involved prescription drugs, with the vast majority (71 percent) being opioid analgesics, according to SAMHSA.

“The epidemic of drug abuse and misuse represents one of the greatest challenges facing health care professionals today,” says AMCP CEO Edith A. Rosato, RPh, IOM. “Drug addiction not only destroys individuals and their families, but it places a huge and growing burden on our health care system. It is imperative for pharmacists to play a central role in removing barriers for patients who seek Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for drug addiction to have the best chance of obtaining a positive outcome.”

In seeking better treatment outcomes, the ATAG will review current processes and systems that may present barriers in accessing treatment, as well as follow-up mechanisms that aim to reduce the risk of relapse. The group also will explore how multiple stakeholders can work more efficiently and cohesively to improve the quality and timeliness of care for patients who seek treatment.

The objectives of this initiative include: (1) identifying and prioritizing areas with the greatest potential for significantly improved patient outcomes, including those that would require a low-cost, non-labor intensive policy change, and longer term solutions that represent a potential “game-changer” in treatment; (2) developing recommendations to remove barriers, improve processes and modify systems to improve addiction treatment outcomes, (3) sharing best practices; and (4) serving as advocates in adopting recommended changes.

The group will meet monthly and plans to present its findings and recommendations, and release resource materials in late 2016.