U Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to expand opioid treatment plan

Opioid epidemic and drug abuse concept

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(Iowa City, IA) -- University of Iowa Health Care will use $3.8 million in funds from a settlement between the Iowa Attorney General's office and a firm that helped market opioids. UI Health plans to expand a program to train health care providers to treat opioid addiction using Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT).

“From the beginning of our efforts to hold opioid makers and others accountable, my goal has always been to help Iowans who were victims of the opioid epidemic,” says Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. “This first settlement is kick-starting these efforts.”

UI Hospitals & Clinics launched a clinic that uses MAT to treat opioid addiction in 2017.MAT uses the drugs buprenorphine or methadone as medications for addiction and withdrawal. They have both been

Alison Lynch, MD, professor of psychiatry and family medicine, and director of the opioid addiction clinic at UI Hospitals & Clinics, says that the funding from the settlement will bolster her team’s efforts to train more providers in more Iowa communities on how to treat opioid addiction. She says the number of opioid-related deaths in Iowa rose 36-percent in 2020. She says additional stress and isolation likely was behind the increase.

UI Health Care will be collaborating with a number of entities: state agencies, community mental health centers, harm reduction coalitions, healthcare collaboratives, county jails, medical societies, and more.

“To put an end to the opioid crisis, it absolutely has to be a team effort,” says Lynch. “The more physicians that have MAT in their toolkit and can work with community partners to provide support for individuals with addiction and other mental health issues, the more lives that will be saved.”

Iowa Attorney General Miller says a larger, $170-mllion settlement with Johnson & Johnson is pending.

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