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MAT advances

Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill recently that would allow health care providers to prescribe a helpful drug — buprenorphine — for opioid addicts.

Buprennorphine is proven in medication-assisted treatment for opioid abuse.

Medication-assisted treatment is highly regarded in many medical circles.

“If healthcare professionals are able to prescribe opioids to patients,” says Murkowski, “then they should be able to prescribe medications that help manage opioid dependence.

“By removing barriers to life-saving medication-assisted treatments that have been clinically proven to help patients safely reduce or even end their dependence on opioids, we can ensure Americans struggling with substance abuse have access to the treatment they need to fully recover.”

The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act also has a special aspect to address the geographical challenges in Alaska. If passed, and it must be passed yet in both congressional bodies, it would allow community health aides and practitioners to offer medication-assisted treatment in small communities throughout the state while working with a provider through telemedicine.

The bill would eliminate the need to provide a waiver through the Drug Enforcement Agency to prescribe buprenorphine. It also would require that the federal government inform the public about the elimination of the requirement.

Opioid addiction is a horrendous medical issue in Ketchikan and throughout Alaska.

A law that would have the effect of moving addicted Alaskans from a drug-dependent lifestyle to one of being drug free is welcome and likely to be appreciated in other states, as well. It should receive significant support in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

It will save lives.