News from NASADAD
- NASADAD sends letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in support of confirmation of ONDCP Acting Director Michael Botticelli
- NASADAD attends briefing on curing Hepatitis C
- NASADAD attends briefing on mental health and substance abuse parity
- NASADAD attends briefing on the opioid epidemic in large cities
Capitol Hill News
- Senate passes resolution designating National Drug Take-Back Week and Heroin Abuse Awareness Month
Around the Agencies
- NIAAA to run clinical trial of new medication to treat alcohol use disorder
- NIH announces National Drug Facts Week to begin on January 26th
- CMS expands Medicaid coverage for children with Autism
- Webcast available for Recovery Month Kick-Off Luncheon
In the News
- Community leaders call for end to Hepatitis C treatment access crisis
- Faces and Voices of Recovery and Young People in Recovery approve plans to merge
News from NASADAD
NASADAD sends letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in support of confirmation of ONDCP Acting Director Michael Botticelli
NASADAD sent the letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Grassley (R-IA) on September 9th following President Obama’s nomination announcement. The letter expresses NASADAD’s enthusiastic support for the nomination of Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to serve as the permanent Director of ONDCP. The letter also recommends that the Committee take action on the nomination. The letter outlines Mr. Botticelli’s outstanding work to advance the field of substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery and his ability collaborate across sectors to advance public health goals. We will continue to update the membership as Mr. Botticelli’s confirmation process moves forward.
NASADAD attends briefing on curing Hepatitis C
Thomas Friedlander, Public Policy Intern attended the briefing, “Curing Hepatitis C – the Patient’s Perspective,” hosted by Gilead Sciences on September 12th. Panelists included a leading clinical researcher in the field of Hepatitis C and two former patients, one of whom served as the nation’s first regional Drug Czar in Baltimore. The briefing focused on SOVALDI, a new drug that reduces the time needed to cure Hepatitis C. Clinical researcher, Dr. Natarajan Ravendhran, discussed the need for SOVALDI to be available for Hepatitis C patients at all stages of the virus. Former patient, Mike Gimbel, addressed the relationship between Hepatitis C and heroin use. Panelists also discussed the challenge of mitigating the high costs of SOVALDI.
Coy Stout, Gilead Sciences
Dr. Natarajan Ravendhran, St. Agnes Hospital, MD
Mike Gimbel, Mike Gimbel Associates
NASADAD attends briefing on mental health and substance abuse parity
Colleen Haller, Public Policy Associate and Thomas Friedlander, Public Policy Intern attended the briefing, “Realizing the Promise of Mental Health and Substance Use Parity: New Tools for Navigating Mental Health Coverage,” hosted by the National Council for Behavioral Health and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) on September 10th. The briefing featured presentations by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), as well as Chuck Ingoglia (National Ccouncil) and Robert Gebbia (AFSP) The panelists discussed the social and economic impact of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and announced the release of brochures designed to help consumers understand their protections under MHPAEA.
Fmr. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Kennedy Forum
Chuck Ingoglia, National Council for Behavioral Health
Robert Gebbia, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
NASADAD attends briefing on the opioid epidemic in large cities
Thomas Friedlander, Public Policy Intern attended the briefing, “The Opioid Epidemic: Reporting from the Front Lines of America’s Big Cities,” hosted by the Big Cities Health Coalition and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) on September 16th. The briefing featured presentations by the Commissioners of the New York City and Chicago Public Health Departments as well as the Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. The panelists discussed the increase in opioid misuse in major metropolitan areas and described potential policy responses to the growing number of opioid overdoses. These policies include making naloxone more widely available to reverse overdoses, passing the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act to increase access to buprenorphine treatment, and expanding Good Samaritan protections to the federal level. Panelists also discussed the rising rate of deaths from opioid overdose and the need for greater prescription oversight.
Shelly Hearne, Big Cities Health Coalition
Mary Travis Bassett, New York City Department of Public Health and Mental Hygiene
Bechara Choucair, Chicago Department of Public Health
Barbara Ferrer, Boston Public Health Commission
Capitol Hill News
Senate passes resolution designating National Drug Take-Back Week and Heroin Abuse Awareness Month
On Wednesday, September 10th, the Senate voted unanimously to designate the week between October 27th and November 2nd as “National Drug Take-Back Week.” The designated week seeks to raise awareness on drug take-back programs in an effort to reduce the accessibility of unused prescription drugs among adolescents. The resolution also designates October as “National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Abuse Awareness Month.” The designated month will be used to expand the discussion surrounding the nonmedical use of prescription drugs and heroin use. In 2011, 55% of accidental overdose deaths were attributed to prescription drugs, and 74% of prescription drug-related deaths were attributed to opioid pain relievers. The resolution was introduced by U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
Around the Agencies
NIAAA to run clinical trial of new medication to treat alcohol use disorder
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) announced that it will conduct the trial on “gabapentin enacarbil” beginning in early 2015. The study will test the drug’s safety and effectiveness in treating patients with alcohol use disorders. Director of NIAAA, George Koob, PhD, said “Current medications for alcohol dependence are effective for some, but not all patients. New medications are needed to provide effective therapy to a broader spectrum of alcohol dependent individuals.” Gabapentin has already been successful in other studies in helping patients reduce heavy drinking or stop drinking altogether. There are currently three medications approved by the FDA to treat alcohol use disorders: disulfram, acamprosate, and naltrexone.
NIH announces National Drug Facts Week to begin on January 26th
The National Institutes of Health sponsors National Drug Facts Week to bring adolescents together with scientific experts to educate students about the myths of drug use and addiction. The upcoming Week will run from January 26th – February 1st, 2015. Information on last year’s event and ideas for next year are available on the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) website. NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow says “National Drug Facts Week has been growing every year, from 92 events at its inception almost five years ago. This tells us how much teens – who are bombarded daily with misinformation about drugs – want science-based facts about drug use.” Events can be hosted by a variety of organizations including schools, community organizations, clinics, and others. The online toolkit provides information about how to run a successful event and offers resources on adolescent drug use and interactive tools.
CMS expands Medicaid coverage for children with Autism
According to an article from the Washington Post, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that comprehensive autism services must be covered for children by all State Medicaid plans any by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Previously, some States only covered services for children with severe autism. The new guidelines require State Medicaid programs to cover the full range of services under the early and periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment services or EPSDT benefit. This applies to children with autism spectrum disorder, which includes Asperger syndrome and autistic disorder. The expanded coverage will reduce the cost of autism treatment for low income families, which now averages about $3 million.
Webcast available for Recovery Month Kick-Off Luncheon
The Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) announced the availability of the luncheon webcast on September 11th. Rob Morrison, Executive Director and Colleen Haller, Public Policy Associate attended the luncheon hosted by NAADAC. SAMHSA, Young People in Recovery (YPR), and the Association of Recovery Schools partnered with NAADAC to plan the event. The luncheon opened with a song written and performed by John McAndrew, a recovery advocate. ONDCP Acting Director Botticelli and Administrator Hyde provided brief remarks and Cynthia Moreno, Executive Director of NADAAC, welcomed participants and emceed the event. A number of other speakers presented on a panel to discuss treatment and recovery issues including CSAT Director Dr. Clark, CMHS Director Paolo del Vecchio, founding member of Young People in Recovery Mike DeAgro, and Executive Director of the Association of Recovery Schools Kristen Harper.
In the News
Community leaders call for end to Hepatitis C treatment access crisis
A coalition of Hepatitis C organizers, led by the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) called on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to remove discriminatory barriers to treatment (used by both private and public payers) for patients with Hepatitis C. The coalition collected over 700 signatures from individuals, organizations, and medical providers, demanding greater availability for effective Hepatitis C treatment for all patients. In some cases, the most effective treatments are given to the sickest patients, meaning an individual with Stage One or Two Hepatitis C may have to wait until the virus advances before being eligible for the most effective treatment solutions. In addition, patients with substance use disorders may be required to maintain sobriety for an extended period of time before being treated. The coalition argues that this approach limits the number of patients who can be treated and does less to curb Hepatitis C outbreaks.
Faces and Voices of Recovery and Young People in Recovery approve plans to merge
Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) and Young People in Recovery (YPR) announced the merger on September 16th. Both organizations’ Boards of Directors approved the move which will be completed over the next several months. Mike DeAgro, Chairman of the Board of YPR said “Together, we are creating the New Recovery Advocacy Movement, combining previously separate organizations into a single, stronger, national voice that can advocate for the needs of millions of people of all ages who need support while seeking or in continued recovery.” The new organization will continue to advocate for robust recovery communities and to ensure that all individuals have the ability to achieve and sustain long-term recovery.