Experts debate the role of medication in treating opioid addiction

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Every 20 minutes someone in the United States dies as the result of an opioid overdose, reports WBUR.

And some experts at the recent annual American Society of Addiction Medicine conference in Baltimore questioned why providers rely on help from the pharmaceutical industry--by means of medications such as methodone, naltrexone and buprenorphine--to fix this problem, according to the Boston NPR station.

"Why are we asking pharma to find ways to treat opioid addiction when we can find a direct way--stop passing out painkillers like candy, America. That's my message. That should be your message," Peter Shumlin, former governor of Vermont, said at the conference, the station reported.

In addition to medications that can help treat opioid addition, Robert DuPont, M.D., former White House drug czar, recommended that physicians also consider treatment for the underlying psychological symptoms that can lead to substance abuse addiction, according to the article.

As the country tries to control the opioid addiction epidemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reconsidering whether it should require doctors who prescribe opioid painkillers to undergo safety training courses, reports the Associated Press. The training, which is funded by drug manufacturers, is currently voluntary and has been since 2010. Only about a half of prescribing physicians now take the training, according to the news service.

To learn more:
- read the WBUR story
- here's the AP article