NIH Expert Panel Conclusions Regarding Methadone Treatment
In November 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a Consensus Panel on Effective Medical Treatment of Heroin Addiction. The panel of national experts concluded:
" Vigorous and effective leadership is needed within the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) (and related Federal and State agencies) to inform the public that dependence is a medical disorder that can be effectively treated with significant benefits for the patient and society.
" Society must make a commitment to offering effective treatment for opiate dependence to all who need it.
" The panel calls attention to the need for opiate-dependent persons under legal supervision to have access to MMT [methadone maintenance treatment]. The ONDCP and the U.S. Department of Justice should implement this recommendation.
" The panel recommends improved training of physicians and other health care professionals in diagnosis and treatment of opiate dependence. For example, we encourage the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other agencies to provide funds to improve training for diagnosis and treatment of opiate dependence in medical schools.
" The panel recommends that unnecessary regulation of MMT and all long-acting agonist treatment programs be reduced.
" Funding for MMT should be increased.
" We advocate MMT as a benefit in public and private insurance programs, with parity of coverage for all medical and mental disorders.
" We recommend targeting opiate-dependent pregnant women for MMT.
" MMT must be culturally sensitive to enhance a favorable outcome for participating African American and Hispanic persons.
" Patients, underrepresented minorities, and consumers should be included in bodies charged with policy development guiding opiate dependence treatment.
" We recommend expanding the availability of opiate agonist treatment in those States and programs where this treatment option is currently unavailable."
"Effective Medical Treatment of Opiate Addiction," NIH Consensus Statement 1997, Nov 17-19 (Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health), 15(6), p. 24.