Highlights from First Half of 2021 Indicate Progress on Opioid Epidemic Resourcing & Treatment

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As we mark the first half of 2021 complete, there were some important developments in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States. There were also additional positive accomplishments in areas related to treatment and care for those in recovery.

CSIP blog entries from the past six months indicate the progress in these areas:

  • In January, the American Medical Association (AMA) and Manatt Health released its updated National Roadmap on State-Level Efforts to End the Nation’s Drug Overdose Epidemic which seeks to provide guidance across all 50 states on best practice policies.
  • A specific part of the above roadmap was highlighted in our early February entry. The focus was on AMA’s efforts to work with universities and health systems to support interdisciplinary pain management delivery models. Concerns about insurance coverage barriers to non-opioid forms of pain treatment, such as physical therapy, were what prompted the AMA’s recommendations that insurance companies review the coverage for these alternate treatment protocols so that they are at least on par with opioid-based treatments for pain.
  • The important role of community-based pharmacies was a focus at the end of February. Especially in light of the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, such pharmacies’ value has become even more pronounced, in cities and rural areas. Given that 90% of the U.S. population lives within 5 minutes of one of these pharmacies, their success in delivering everything from screenings to prescriptions is a vital link to health for many. The work which CSIP partners NeedyMeds and GoodRx have done to support access to low-cost prescription drugs in these settings is one way support for these community-focused service providers continues.
  • While the massive increase in opioid-related drug overdoses in the U.S. during the pandemic was sobering news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our March blog entry indicated how the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) Operation Engage was already working in some states to identify and respond to local drug threat enforcement priorities and to support local drug misuse prevention efforts. The operation is making connections between public safety and public health efforts. Plans for the effort to expand nationally in 2022 are already underway.
  • With the historic passage of the American Rescue Plan, our April entry highlighted how $2.5 billion in the plan is being allocated to address mental health needs related to substance misuse and treatment. The funds will be available through federal block grants to U.S. states and territories so that these jurisdictions can allocated the funding in these areas of focus in a way that can have the best impact. 

Simultaneously, over the first half of the year, we at CSIP continued to offer important resources of our own. In April, we again provided a Facebook Messenger experience that provides consumers with locations to safely drop off unused prescription medications for free as part of the DEA’s Take Back Day. Additionally, we continue to offer additional resources on addiction recovery and treatment in partnership with our members through the Tech Together website, and online pharmacy verification through the Verify Before You Buy website.

While many challenges remain in the second half of this year and going forward as the U.S. continues to address longstanding systemic challenges in the area of substance misuse and treatment care, it is important to note the accomplishments of the first six months of 2021. We at CSIP continue to highlight important developments in these areas and provide information about the resources that consumers can effectively use to respond to these needs.

About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, and .Health. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.