By Alison Knopf
Yes, there are regulations in preparation to address the use of mobile vans to dispense medication-assisted treatment. When connected to brick-and-mortar opioid treatment programs (OTPs), these vans can help patients who don’t have transportation, as we reported in our recap of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) conference last year. At that conference, Demetra Ashley, associate deputy assistant administrator of the Office of Diversion Control of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), told the AATOD board that the project was under way.
Licensing of mobile vans as narcotic treatment programs could be done as an adjunct to existing OTPs, or as stand-alone clinics. It was unclear whether methadone or buprenorphine or both would be part of the proposal, which is expected out this summer in the form of a notice of proposed rulemaking.
Almost 20 years ago, mobile vans were being used to get medication to outlying areas in rural parts of Washington State, where Evergreen Treatment Center was a pioneer in the concept.
Under the rubric of harm reduction, mobile vans have also been providing syringe services, naloxone, and referral to treatment in various parts of the country.
Many experts think that the DEA’s plan to license mobile vans to help treat opioid use disorders is a groundbreaking move that will greatly expand access. Stay tuned for more about the DEA’s proposal later this year.