HONOLULU – The American Medical Association (AMA) expanded its policy for use of opioid litigation settlement funds to emphasize using a portion of the money to expand physician training for treating opioid use disorder. The AMA’s House of Delegates approved the policy Monday at its Interim Meeting.  

Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with an opioid use disorder do not receive treatment. The AMA has worked to ease the regulatory obstacles in treating opioid use disorders, and the new policy says the litigation funds should be used for opportunities to provide clinical experience in the treatment.  

“States are receiving billions of dollars in settlement funds. Not only do patients need counseling and medication to help them with their opioid use disorder, but they also need access to physicians trained in the field. We strongly urge states to invest in building an addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry workforce,” said AMA Trustee Thomas J. Madejski, M.D.    

The AMA has been encouraging the expansion of residency and fellowship training in the treatment of opioid use disorder and funding to overcome the financial barriers that exist for trainees seeking clinical experience in the field. State policymakers have an opportunity to build the infrastructure needed to overcome an epidemic now killing more than 100,000 people each year.  

The AMA also adopted policy to increase access to fentanyl test strips and other drug-checking supplies. The AMA will encourage state and county medical societies to advocate for civil and criminal immunity for the possession, distribution, and use of “drug paraphernalia” that is designed for harm reduction from drug use.

Fentanyl test strips are a point-of-care test that identifies fentanyl contamination in a drug supply and are readily available and inexpensive. A positive test with a fentanyl test strip has been shown to lead to modification of behaviors in order to reduce risk of overdose. Possession of fentanyl test strips is explicitly legal in only 22 states.

“The AMA has strongly supported increased use of a broad array of harm-reduction efforts to reduce death and other harms from nonmedical use of drugs, including for people who inject drugs. These efforts include greater access to naloxone, syringe services programs and pilot programs for overdose prevention sites/supervised injection-use facilities. Fentanyl strips are part of this effort, and we urge states to take steps to help a vulnerable population,” Dr. Madejski said.  

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