Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday the agency will promote the use of drugs to help people addicted to opioids.
The use of “medication-assisted treatment” (MAT), which uses drugs and counseling to combat addiction, has been somewhat controversial because some argue it simply replaces one drug with another.
Gottlieb said the FDA will combat that stigma. Many studies have shown that MAT is the most effective way to deal with opioid addiction.
“The stigma reflects a view some have that a patient is still suffering from addiction even when they’re in full recovery, just because they require medication to treat their illness,” he said.
“This attitude reveals a flawed interpretation of science. It stems from a key misunderstanding many of us have of the difference between a physical dependence and an addiction.”
Drugs used in MAT, like methodone, can reduce withdrawal symptoms and eliminate cravings for opioids.
Some have been critical of using MAT to treat addiction, including former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceZinke under federal investigation for speech to NHL team: report Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance | Puerto Rico’s water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents’ right to sue Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns MORE, who said earlier this year it is “substituting one opioid for another.”
“This stigma serves to keep many Americans who are seeking a life of sobriety from reaching their goal,” Gottlieb said.
“In this case, in the setting of a public health crisis, we need to take a more active role in challenging these conventions around medical therapy.”
Gottlieb has frequently said that combatting the opioid crisis is one of his top priorities.
President Trump is expected to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency as early as this week.
More than 64,000 Americans died last year from overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.