The F.D.A. plans to issue guidelines to pharmaceutical companies to further expand Medication-Assisted Therapy for opioid addiction.
According to the New York Times, these new guidelines would encourage new formulations of current drugs and would allow new drugs that address aspects of addiction, like cravings, rather than addiction itself. Currently, only three drugs are approved for opioid treatment – buprenorphine (more commonly known as Suboxone), methadone and naltrexone.
Drew Moffett is the Clinical Supervisor at Preferred Family Healthcare in Jefferson City. Moffett believes one of the main reasons a person continues to use drugs is because of the sickness that occurs from withdrawal.
“If you’re using opiates for a year or longer and then you just abruptly stop, - and you could have a full time job – there’s no way you’re going to be able to function at a full time job with the flu for two weeks,” Moffett said.
Gaurav Kulkarni, an addiction psychiatrist at Compass Health in Columbia, says to think of addiction like a chronic illness.
“How a person gets affected by chronic illness, such as say high blood pressure or diabetes, is that their entire life is affected. And the treatment they need for these chronic conditions is long,” Kulkarni said. “Similarly, for someone who is struggling with addiction and substance abuse issues, it is equally important for these people to be on prolonged and ongoing care.”
The F.D.A. will issue the new guidelines for drug makers within the next few weeks.