Pubdate: Fri, 23 July, 1999
Source: Intelligencer Journal (PA)
Copyright: 1999 Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press
Related: , with additional
articles on heroin at and on treatment at 


PHILADELPHIA - Doctors would have greater leeway in treating heroin addicts
with methadone under a proposal announced Thursday by the Clinton

The proposal requires the nation's 900 methadone clinics to be accredited
by an independent agency or state and shifts federal oversight of methadone
treatment from the Food and drug Administration to the Department of Health
and Human Services.

Whereas FDA oversight focused on preventing methadone from getting to the
streets, the new guidelines promote "sensible drug treatment for 810,000
Americans who suffer from heroin abuse," said Barry McCaffrey, director of
the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

McCaffrey made the announcement at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in

Under the proposed accreditation standards, methadone treatment programs
will be required to measure their performance by how well their patients
reduce drug use, hold jobs and avoid the criminal justice system.

Also, doctors who are now hampered by strict FDA rules governing methadone
will be able to use their medical judgment in making treatment decisions
without interference from federal regulators.

"The point of this program is to improve quality and accessibility of
service," said Dr. Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance
Abuse Treatment, an agency of the Health and Human Services department.

"I think it will encourage states and municipalities to look upon methadone
treatment in a different way," said Mark W. Parrino, president of the
American Methadone Treatment Association Inc. "It will provide an
opportunity for treatment programs to reduce the stigma associated with
providing care to dependent people."

The government hopes insurance companies will like the new guidelines and
will be persuaded to pay for methadone treatment. 
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