How Policymakers Can Increase Access to Methadone

The drug is effective at treating opioid use disorder, yet access remains highly restricted

How Policymakers Can Increase Access to Methadone
Vanessa Leavitt puts out Tang and Kool-Aid for patients to take with their Methadone treatment at CAP Quality Care clinic in Westbrook, Maine.
Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Despite decades of research proving its effectiveness, one of the key medications used to manage opioid dependence is often unavailable. As we write in a recent Health Affairs blog post, there are steps policymakers could take to allow patients to receive methadone, one of only three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid use disorder. These are a mix of legislative and regulatory actions, which include:

  • Issuing new federal regulations regarding mobile methadone vans, which can deliver medication in different settings, such as jails and rural areas;
  • Making state regulatory changes to allow medication units—also known as dosing sites, which are affiliated with opioid treatment programs (OTPs)—to make treatment available in underserved areas or in locations that are more convenient for patients; and
  • Revising state laws and regulations, such as moratoria or statutory caps, that unnecessarily restrict the number of OTPs allowed to operate within a state.

Read the blog post here.

Josh Rising directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ health care programs. Elizabeth Connolly is project director for Pew’s substance use prevention and treatment initiative, Alexandra Duncan is a senior officer for the initiative, and Alaina McBournie is an officer on the team.