This News Report is being published at a time of momentous change for our field. The Office of National Drug Control Policy(ONDCP) in conjunction with the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) within SAMHSA released the Notice for Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on July 22, 1999.
On July 30, 1999, only one week after the release of the NPRM, Congressman Bliley of Virginia, who chairs the House Commerce Committee, convened hearings in Washington, DC on the Drug Addiction and Treatment Act (S.324) (H.R. 2634). This Act would allow physicians in general medical practice to prescribe Schedule IV and V Narcotics to treat opiate dependence, making it possible for doctors to treat such individuals after 75 years of being prohibited from treating opiate dependence with opioid medications. This edition outlines our Association’s concerns about this legislation.
There has also been increasing interest in treating methadone maintained patients in physician offices. Our Association’s recommendations have been included in this News Report, reflecting recent changes made by the Policy Committee and the Board of Directors on September 23, 1999.
This Report will present the findings of our Association’s 1998 Survey among methadone programs and State Methadone Authorities in the United States. Brigid Doherty’s article will highlight that more than 179,000 patients were registered in the nation’s methadone treatment programs, representing a startling increase in the number of patients reported in treatment by the federal government.
This edition of the Report also details our Association’s primary reasons for supporting the change in federal oversight to accreditation and our response to the NPRM, which was presented at the November 1, 1999 interagency hearing. We believe that accreditation will bring greater legitimacy to methadone maintenance treatment and will also improve the quality of patient care throughout the nation’s methadone treatment programs. Our principal concern is about the cost of accreditation and its effect on patient care and the treatment programs.
Readers will receive a progress report on the Drug Enforcement Administration/American Methadone Treatment Association’s Best Practice Guidelines, which have been expanded by the DEA/Association Committee. They are expected to be made available to participants at the April 9-12, National Methadone Conference 2000, which will convene in San Francisco.
We are certain that our members and associates will agree that this represents enormous activity in the field of methadone maintenance treatment services, with the potential to change the nature of how opiate dependence is treated in the United States.