You're not alone. Confidential help is available for free. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

CEO Update | 21

CEO Update | 21

FDA Awards Contract to National Academies of Sciences to Develop Opioid-Prescribing Guidelines
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. announced this week his agency has awarded a contract to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to help develop evidence-based guidelines for appropriate opioid analgesic prescribing for acute pain.

In his announcement, Gottlieb said the work’s primary scope is “to understand what evidence is needed to ensure that all current and future clinical practice guidelines for opioid analgesic prescribing are sufficient, and what research is needed to generate that evidence in a way that is both practical and feasible.

“Our analyses suggest that the first prescription for many common, acute indications could typically be for many fewer pills—maybe just a day or two of medication rather than a 30-day supply, which is typically prescribed,” Gottlieb said in his announcement. “In some cases, the excess pills that aren’t used by patients may end up being diverted to illicit markets or misused or abused by friends or family members.”

Gottlieb noted that this contract is separate from the National Academy of Medicine’s new Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Promote Awareness of Synthetic Drug Use
Four U.S. senators introduced the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2018, a bipartisan bill to help address addiction and substance misuse, including the growing use of synthetic drugs.

The bill from Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) would require the U.S. Surgeon General to report to Congress on the health effects of new psychoactive substances—including synthetic drugs—on young adults between the ages of 12 and 18. Click here to read the text of the bill.

Separately in the Senate this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said a bipartisan bill to address the nation’s opioid crisis will be a top priority in the Senate after Labor Day.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Signs Laws to Expand Mental Health and Addiction-Treatment Services
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) this week signed five laws to expand mental health and addiction-treatment services and Medicaid coverage of them.

Over two days, Rauner signed bills that will broaden the state’s mental health and addiction-treatment services, including measures that will: allow providers to give immediate access to outpatient treatment by removing prior-authorization barriers; expand access to behavioral and mental health experts for Medicaid patients by allowing them to use telehealth technology; partner law enforcement agencies with substance abuse service providers; improve insurance companies’ coverage of mental health and substance use disorder treatments; and provide the state’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services the opportunity to apply for a waiver that would allow treatment for serious mental illness on the first episode of psychosis.

“I applaud the Illinois legislature and Gov. Rauner for enacting this landmark parity legislation,” former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) said in a statement. Kennedy is the co-founder of The Kennedy Forum, which advocates for improving the lives of individuals living with mental illness and addiction, and promoting behavioral health for all. “By increasing access to treatment amid skyrocketing rates of overdoses and suicides in this country, S.B. 1707 will save lives!” he added. “I call on other states to follow Illinois’ lead in demanding insurer and regulator transparency and accountability to help end coverage discrimination against people with mental health and addiction challenges.”

PCORI Awards $85 million in Research Grants
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Board of Governors this week approved $85 million to fund 16 new studies that will compare two or more approaches to improve care and outcomes for a range of conditions, including unsafe opioid use, cancer, depression, and stroke.

That funding includes $5 million for a University of Washington natural experiment study that will compare two approaches to reducing unsafe opioid prescribing in the workers’ compensation system in two states: Ohio and Washington.

“These new awards will help answer significant questions about treatment and care delivery that are important to patients and those who care for them,” PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, M.D., M.P.H. said in a statement. “They reflect the best ideas for urgently needed research on topics prioritized based on input from patients, caregivers, clinicians and other stakeholders,” he added. “The results will give healthcare decision-makers evidence they need to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions.”

Additional details about the projects is available here.

SAMHSA Provides Behavioral Health Resources for First Responders
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has posted new behavioral health resources to help first responders.

According to SAMHSA, a recent national survey of firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel showed that 19 percent reported having thoughts of suicide, 27 percent reported struggling with substance use issues, and 81 percent said they feared being seen as weak or unfit for duty if they asked for help.

The new resources include an online train course called Service to Self: Behavioral Health for Fire and EMS Personnel.

NABH Members Participate in Shatterproof’s Payer Initiative Focus Group
NABH members participated this week in a focus group for Shatterproof’s Payer-Based Strategies Initiative, which was created to help improve insurance coverage of addiction treatment.

Shatterproof—a not-for-profit organization focused on ending the devastation that addiction causes families—has 19 insurers working on this initiative to develop and implement payer strategies within different markets and lines of business.

The research will examine both private insurance companies and state regulations around addiction treatment, and the assessment will identify areas where insurance policies and payments can and should be changed. It will also identify ways to track this information across the industry.

Save the Date for the NABH 2019 Annual Meeting!
Please save the date and plan to join us at the Mandarin Oriental Washington, D.C. from March 18-20, 2019 for the 2019 NABH Annual Meeting. NABH will provide additional information in upcoming editions of CEO Update.


For questions or comments about CEO Update, please contact Jessica Zigmond.