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FDA Signals New Approach to Fighting Addiction

The FDA plans to begin permitting pharmaceutical companies to sell medications that help temper cravings, even if they don’t fully stop addiction.

As reported by The New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration plans to begin permitting pharmaceutical companies to sell medications that help temper cravings, even if they don’t fully stop addiction.

The change is part of a wider effort to expand access to medication-assisted treatment. The agency will issue draft guidelines in the next few weeks. A senior agency official provided details of the proposal to The New York Times.

The new approach was signaled Saturday by Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in remarks to the National Governors Association. Azar said the agency intended “to correct a misconception that patients must achieve total abstinence in order for [medication-assisted treatment] to be considered effective.”

Azar, who took office late last month, said he would work to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and addiction therapy, and would not treat it as a moral failing.

The opioid epidemic is considered the most unrelenting drug crisis in U.S. history. In 2016, roughly 64,000 people were killed by opioid-related overdoses, including from prescription painkillers and heroin.

Noting federal data showing that only one-third of specialty substance abuse treatment programs offer medication-assisted treatment, Azar said, “We want to raise that number — in fact, it will be nigh impossible to turn the tide on this epidemic without doing so.”

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To read more about the FDA’s new stance regarding medical assisted addiction treatment, please visit NWAOnline.com.

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