Watanabe Appointed to White House-sponsored Committee Focused on Opioid Use Disorder

As a renowned expert in health policy and outcomes research, UC Irvine School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Dean of Pharmacy Assessment and Quality Jonathan H. Watanabe, PharmD, PhD, was selected to the “Methadone Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: Examining Federal Regulations and Laws – A Workshop” Committee from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The committee is sponsored by The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. On March 3-4, 2022, the committee’s two-day public workshop will bring together experts and key stakeholders to examine the current federal regulatory and legal landscape regarding the provision of and access to methadone to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).

“More can be done to help patients suffering from opioid use disorder and ease the societal challenges that are linked,” Watanabe said.

“We need to determine what factors are limiting improved evidence-based access to medications to treat opioid use disorder, knowing that the opioid epidemic has only grown more devastating during the pandemic. Dreadfully, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, annual overdose deaths exceeded 100,000 for the first time– exceeding the number of deaths due to car crashes and gun violence combined. The majority of overdose deaths were due to opioids.”

Alan Leshner, PhD, will serve as the chair of the 16-member committee. Leshner is Chief Executive Officer, Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. He served as former Executive Publisher of the journal Science and the Science family of journals.

Looking ahead to the workshop in March, presentations and discussions will be designed to:

  • Examine current federal regulations governing methadone treatment services, including the current COVID-19 emergency regulatory relief;
  • Discuss the impact of these regulations relative to other factors affecting treatment services;
  • Explore potential options for modifying federal regulations and laws to expand access to quality treatment with methadone; and
  • Explore state laws that may conflict with federal regulations.

To attend the free workshop, sign up on the event page. Follow Watanabe on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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