Macklemore, a White House Visit & the Opioid Crisis

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(DGIwire) – Rap artist Macklemore has entertained millions with his catchy songs. But back on May 14, 2016, the hip-hop star had a more serious topic in mind: he appeared alongside the President during the weekly White House address to discuss addiction to opioids and those who overdose on prescription painkillers, according to a report in Modern Healthcare.

Speaking days after the House of Representatives passed several bills to combat opioid abuse, according to NBC News, Macklemore opened up about his own experience with drug abuse and how treatment helped him turn his life around.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 125 Americans die each day from opioid overdose. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013, according to the CDC. In 2014, more people died of drug overdoses in the U.S. than any other year on record, and at least six out of 10 of these overdose deaths involved prescription painkillers and heroin.

According to Newsweek, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, comprising 18 separate pieces of legislation, would provide $500 million in funding to states and local communities for education, prevention and treatment programs to combat the use of prescription painkillers and heroin.

Along with the new approaches to addressing the opioid epidemic has come an increased focus on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for these patients. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Serviced Administration, MAT combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders. A Presidential Memorandum released in October 2015 directed federal departments and agencies that directly provide, contract to provide, reimburse for, or otherwise facilitate access to health benefits, to conduct a review to identify barriers to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders and develop action plans to address these barriers. In conjunction with this, the Memorandum instituted steps to ensure that healthcare professionals who prescribe opioids are properly trained to do so. According to a White House press release, the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget includes $133 million in new investments aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic, including expanding medication-assisted treatment programs.

“Medication-assisted treatment plays a key role in an approach to dealing with the opioid epidemic,” says Dr. Mark Sirgo, President and CEO of BioDelivery Sciences. “Offering alternatives to some of the administration challenges that come with older formulations, such as the need to place the drug under the tongue, may help make medication-assisted treatment more feasible.”

BioDelivery Sciences has developed a product using their advanced drug delivery technology known as BioErodible MucoAdhesive (BEMA®), which utilizes a bioerodible polymer film for application to the mucosal membranes that allows for the efficient delivery of a drug while potentially overcoming some of the administration challenges presented by the existing sublingual dosage forms.

With stars like Macklemore joining the drive to increase awareness of the opioid epidemic, the worlds of entertainment and politics are combining forces to focus on this serious problem.

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