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Medication treatment for opioid use disorder and community pharmacy: Expanding care during a national epidemic and global pandemic.

Cochran G, Bruneau J, Cox N, Gordon AJ. Medication treatment for opioid use disorder and community pharmacy: Expanding care during a national epidemic and global pandemic. Substance Abuse. 2020 Jan 1; 41(3):269-274.

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Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), such as methadone and buprenorphine, are effective strategies for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) and reducing overdose risk. MOUD treatment rates continue to be low across the US, and currently, some evidence suggests access to evidence-based treatment is becoming increasingly difficult for those with OUD as a result of the 2019 novel corona virus (COVID-19). A major underutilized source to address these serious challenges in the US is community pharmacy given the specialized training of pharmacists, high levels of consumer trust, and general availability for accessing these service settings. Canadian, Australian, and European pharmacists have made important contributions to the treatment and care of those with OUD over the past decades. Unfortunately, US pharmacists are not permitted to prescribe MOUD and are only currently allowed to dispense methadone for the treatment of pain, not OUD. US policymakers, regulators, and practitioners must work to facilitate this advancement of community pharmacy-based through research, education, practice, and industry. Advancing community pharmacy-based MOUD for leading clinical management of OUD and dispensation of treatment medications will afford the US a critical innovation for addressing the opioid epidemic, fallout from COVID-19, and getting individuals the care they need.

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