April 12, 2013
There have been a number of recent and critical articles about OTPs in the United States. Some of this media coverage focuses on “for-profit” OTPs in the country, providing unfavorable comparisons to the “non-profit” counterparts.
The April 8, 2013 edition of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly presented a comprehensive analysis of such negative media coverage.
Media reports have also been in error in indicating that Opioid Treatment Programs, both “for-profit” and “non-profit” are primarily responsible for reports of methadone associated mortality in the past decade. Such media assertions are unfounded in view of the fact that there have been five nationally published reports on this topic, beginning with the SAMHSA report of 2003 and the GAO report of 2009.
It is also important to point out that the expansion of Opioid Treatment Programs in the United States over the course of the past decade has been driven by proprietary investments. At the present time, there are 1,250 certified OTPs in 48 states, treating approximately 310,000 patients on any given day, according to SAMHSA/CSAT data. This is in stark contrast to the system of ten years ago, where approximately 800 certified OTPs were in existence, treating approximately 200,000 patients on any given day.
Another misleading element of the media coverage has been the contention that “for-profit” OTPs have an interest in retaining patients in treatment as a method of increasing their profit margin. This is simply not the case. Numerous NIDA funded studies both here and abroad have demonstrated that retaining a patient in treatment produces more favorable outcome. This is not an issue of profit margin; this is simply a matter of effective treatment.
AATOD will continue to work with all media outlets who seek our guidance, trying to set the record straight. For the time being, we always recommend that OTPs maintain high compliance levels with federal and state regulatory guidelines and that principle is embedded in our ethical canon. We have been pleased to work with all of the federal and state agencies which have regulatory jurisdiction in this area as a means of achieving this long term strategic agenda.