Substance Use Disorder by 15 States

Substance use disorder (SUD) treatment could benefit from pharmacists’ accessibility and expertise, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) wrote in detailed letters to 15 Medicaid program directors. NACDS also called for action on policy recommendations designed to help prevent opioid abuse and addiction, while caring for those in pain.


NACDS made its case to 14 states and Washington, D.C., which have received planning grants from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to increase provider capacity and improve access to treatment for individual suffering with substance use disorders. The states include Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington State, and West Virginia. The grants are a result of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.


The 14 states and Washington, D.C. are exploring creative ways to leverage healthcare providers to treat people with substance use disorders. CMS will select five of these 15 to run a three-year demonstration that involves enhanced federal reimbursement for increases in Medicaid spending on SUD treatment and recovery services. CMS already has selected Washington, D.C. as one of the five.


NACDS President & CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, wrote: “Allowing community pharmacists to be more involved in direct patient care serves to increase provider capacity while also eliminating gaps and barriers in treatment and increasing access to naloxone and other [medication assisted treatment] MAT drugs. Pharmacists also offer a critical role in implementing strategies to help reduce population SUD risk.


“For example, pharmacists can contribute to helping states reduce SUD population prevalence by using Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), which has been developed, tested, and implemented in numerous healthcare settings to help identify persons who are misusing alcohol and other drugs.”


NACDS also urged continued progress on its broader public policy recommendations related to the opioid abuse and addiction epidemic. NACDS’ comprehensive recommendations are based on pharmacists’ experiences on the front lines of care. They include a focus on reducing the number of unused opioids; preventing opioids from reaching the wrong hands; helping to prevent addiction; enhancing access to alternative pain treatments; improving access to overdose antidotes; and caring for those in pain.