Michelle Lofwall

UK expert helps create federal guidelines for opioid-use disorder

A UK College of Medicine associate professor helped develop recently published federal standards for treatment of opioid abuse.

Dr. Michelle Lofwall was among experts who worked with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on guidelines for opioid maintenance therapy — prescribing medication to help patients quit abusing prescription drugs as well as heroin.

The guidelines, titled Treatment Improvement Protocol 63, “Medications for Opioid Use Disorder,” reviews the use of methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine.

“I was excited to be asked to help develop this new Treatment Improvement Protocol focused on how to use FDA-approved medications for opioid-use disorder,” Lofwall said. “There is a lot of stigma around addiction and medications used to treat it, so it was critical to have a federal document that clearly explained indications for medicine, provided clinical guidance and dispelled several myths about OUD [opioid-use disorder] and its treatment.”

Treatment at UK

The opioid epidemic has hit Kentucky hard, and Lofwall has worked with other researchers and clinicians at UK to improve treatment options and increase access for those seeking treatment.

Lofwall and Dr. Sharon Walsh, director of the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, have been involved with clinical trials for new formulations of buprenorphine, including an implant and an injection.

“At UK, we have several clinics now that are treating OUD with medication and ancillary psychosocial and recovery support services,” Lofwall said. “We know that patients with OUD can enter remission and lives full and purposeful lives. We just need to do more of it in Kentucky and throughout the nation.”

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This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.