Tele-MAT Provides Light at the End of the Opioid Tunnel

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Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson just signed an agreement[1] with the state of New York in June to settle all of the state’s claims against the company related to the opioid epidemic in exchange for $263 million in funding for addiction treatment and related matters. This crucial development comes after a broader $5 billion settlement[2] between the company and many other states, and J&J’s own decision to stop selling opioids[3] altogether.

The company’s actions can help put the opioid crisis in perspective when we take into consideration how J&J’s products account for approximately 1% of the prescribed opioids in the United States. In fact, the opioid problem is so massive that it can only be tackled through innovative and effective treatments like QuickMD’s combination of telemedicine and MAT (medicine-assisted treatment)—the cutting-edge addiction protocol known as tele-MAT.

On the other hand, Purdue Pharmaceuticals is a much larger player in the story of the opioid crisis based on its creation of Oxycontin, one of the most well-known and most abused opioids. Purdue VP Richard Sackler infamously boasted[4] that “The launch of OxyContin Tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition. The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense, and white.”

What we now know about opioids is that another type of blizzard has followed beyond the rampant issuance of prescriptions—hospitalization and death. Naturally, much of the media discussion of opioids tends to focus on overdose mortalities, which have soared 30% to record levels[5] during the COVID-19 lockdown. But overdose deaths are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the fallout from the tragic opioid crisis in America.

Studies have also demonstrated a strong correlation between heavy opioid use and crime[6]. In some cases, opioid abuse triggers such misconduct based on either “economic necessity” to purchase drugs or due to changes in the brain caused by long-term abuse. In other cases, criminal activity can actually lead to opioid abuse, especially among young people.

While the opioid disaster has become a crime crisis, it has devolved into a hospitalization nightmare. Beyond the tragic accidents and violence addiction inevitably produces in the lives of patients, not to mention their family, friends, and even bystanders, this class of drugs also introduces its own unique problems for long-term users, such as opioid-induced osteoporosis[7].

 Although many might have believed the opioid crisis would improve over the last several years—especially as awareness of the issue exploded—statistics show it has only worsened. Families have been destroyed by this scourge, but there is hope for recovery thanks to the breakthrough treatment MAT, and QuickMD’s advancement of this amazing protocol in the form of tele-MAT. By combining MAT and telemedicine, our team is at the forefront of reducing crime, hospitalizations, and the ultimate tragedy of the opioid crisis: overdose deaths.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, also recognizes the power of MAT[8] to help patients overcome addiction. According to the agency, this treatment has demonstrated the following patient benefits:

  • Improved patient survival
  • Increased retention in treatment
  • Decreased illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increased patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improved birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

A little more background on MAT is in order. A “whole patient” treatment, it combines medication with therapy to achieve an outcome far more beneficial than the sum of its parts. The primary medication used in MAT is Suboxone, the most popular brand name of Buprenorphine + Naloxone. This medication has the dual effect of reducing withdrawal symptoms while also lessening the patient’s opioid cravings.

As mentioned, MAT has been a gamechanger for millions of Americans, but QuickMD has raised this treatment to the next level by turning MAT into tele-MAT. Our devoted medical staff understood from the beginning that one of the main drawbacks of MAT is availability. Unfortunately, certified specialists are just not available to many Americans dealing with opioid addiction.

What’s more, for a typical person holding down a job and raising children while battling addiction, traveling long distances to receive help just isn’t feasible or realistic. Tele-MAT is such a boon for all because it places medical experts where they are most needed most by harnessing the power of telemedicine. As the number of states services by QuickMD physicians continues to grow, an ever-increasing number of Americans can finally get the help they need to finally extricate opioid usage from their lives.

But the advantages of tele-MAT go far beyond making the treatment available. Because a telemedicine session can occur anywhere, QuickMD patients are also assured of maintaining their privacy without the social stigma of visiting a treatment center. At the same time, telemedicine enables the service to remain affordable for every individual ready to rise above their addiction.

Without a doubt, the patient response to tele-MAT has been phenomenal and the list of patients using MAT to improve their own lives grows daily. If you are a physician interesting in fighting the battle against the opioid crisis, or an investor ready to join the telemedicine revolution with the industry leader in patient innovation, please contact QuickMD today.  

Jared Sheehan: Jared is the Chief Operating Officer at QuickMD. He is a serial entrepreneur who has worked at the intersection of social impact and technology for the last decade. Prior to QuickMD, he was a senior consultant at Deloitte Consulting in their Social Impact Strategy practice. Jared is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and has deep healthcare experience, including the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Aurora Healthcare, Neeka Healthcare, Scripps research, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Jared is the winner of the FDA Naloxone App Competition. Jared graduated Summa Cum Laude from Miami University.

Dr. Parveen Vora, MD: Dr. Vora completed her medical school from Rush Medical College and has been in practice for over eight years in Southern California. She takes great pride in the care provided by QuickMD and is driven by building compassionate bonds with her patients. She has been working with QuickMD to support its urgent care and teleMAT patients for the last two years.

Michael Ashley: Michael Ashley is a contributing writer for QuickMD and the author of more than 30 books, including four bestsellers. A former Disney screenwriter and current professional speaker, he is also a columnist with Forbes and Entrepreneur, covering medical applications of AI and Big Data. Beyond contributing to these publications, Michael has written for the HuffPostFast Company, the IEEE, the United Nations' ITU News, the Orange County Business JournalThe California Business JournalNewsbase, and the Orange County Register. He has also been featured in Entertainment Weekly, Fox Sports, and KTLA.

 

[1] https://www.jnj.com/johnson-johnson-reaches-opioid-settlement-agreement-with-new-york-state-consistent-with-terms-of-previously-announced-broader-settlement-agreement-in-principle

[2] https://www.jnj.com/statement-on-opioid-resolution

[3] https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/johnson-and-johnson-will-stop-selling-opioids-in-the-us-as-part-of-dollar230-million-settlement-in-new-york/ar-AALtx6D

[4] https://apnews.com/article/4e2da888ede44c3db129b46d76504778

[5] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/people-of-color-make-up-growing-shares-of-drug-overdose-deaths-in-u-s-heres-why-11628797944

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2790266/

[7] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/216601

[8] https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

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