"Access to medications for OUD remains inequitable across different treatment settings as well. In the United States, methadone can only be administered through specialty facilities known as opioid treatment programs (OTPs), even though the available evidence shows that delivering it through an office-based medical practice setting is also effective. Moreover, most residential treatment facilities do not offer medications, and if they do, they rarely offer all three medications.

"Despite the large and increasing numbers of people with OUD entering the criminal justice system in the United States, evidence-based medications are often withheld or are only provided on a limited basis for medically supervised withdrawal. As a result, few people with OUD receive medication while incarcerated or under the supervision of drug courts. In addition, justice-involved people who do receive medication for OUD are often not linked with care upon release, leading to treatment discontinuation and the concomitant risks of overdose and death. Given that these medications are known to save lives, it is arguable that withholding them from persons with OUD is unethical, as withholding insulin or blood pressure medications would be.

"Pharmacies, mobile medication units, community health centers, emergency departments, and other care settings provide opportunities to engage people with OUD and link them to evidence-based care. Expanding medications for OUD into a broader range of care settings would save lives and build the capacity to make real progress against the epidemic."


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Health Sciences Policy; Committee on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder; Mancher M, Leshner AI, editors. Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Save Lives. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); March 30, 2019.