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AMA Recommends Removing Barriers to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

June 06, 2019

The American Medical Association’s Opioid Task Force has issued a set of recommendations on steps to improve access to care for patients with opioid use disorder.

The new recommendations serve as an update to the group’s original 2015 recommendations, which asked physicians to accept responsibility of ending the epidemic and call on policymakers to help eliminate barriers to treatment and to combat the opioid epidemic. 

Among the recommendations:

  • Remove inappropriate administrative burdens or barriers that delay or deny care with FDA-approved drugs used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, including prior authorization and step therapy.
  • Support the assessment, referral, and treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Remove administrative barriers to comprehensive pain care and rehabilitation programs.
  • Support maternal and child health by increasing access to treatment, preserving families, and ensuring that policies are nonpunitive.
  • Support reforms in the civil and criminal justice system to ensure access to high quality care for opioid use disorder.

“Physicians are responding to the epidemic and we are seeing results: a reduction in opioid prescribing of 33% since 2013, increased use of prescription drug monitoring programs, enhanced education, and greater co-prescribing of naloxone,” said AMA President-elect and chair of the task force, Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA. “But we cannot enforce parity laws or eliminate administrative barriers without the help of state and federal authorities, and that’s what is limiting treatment now.”

—Michael Potts


AMA Opioid Task Force recommendations offer roadmap to policymakers [press release]. May 30, 2019. Chicago, Illinois.

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