The US Health Secretary Is At Odds With His Agency On Opioid Addiction

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price says opioid replacement therapy is "just substituting one opioid for another."
Posted at 3:45 PM, May 13, 2017

Addiction experts aren't happy about what the U.S. health secretary recently had to say about opioid addiction medications.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said opioid replacement therapy is "just substituting one opioid for another." That's not exactly accurate. 

He's talking about drugs like methadone and buprenorphine; they're milder opioids that reduce withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to prescription opioids and heroin without causing a high.

Substitution treatment is the standard therapy for opioid addiction — it's been scientifically proven to decrease drug abuse and increase recovery.

But Price says he believes opioid addiction can be "cured" through other avenues — like non-opioid therapies and abstinence programs.

Experts fear that stance could set the U.S. back when it comes to fighting the opioid crisis.

Price's statement also directly contradicts that of his department. HHS considers opioid addiction a chronic disease that can be managed, but not cured.