FILE - This July 23, 2018 file photo shows packets of buprenorphine, a drug which controls heroin and opioid cravings, in Greenfield, Mass. On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, the nation’s top medical advisers said medications which are proven to successfully treat opioid addiction remain vastly underused in the U.S., despite an epidemic of fatal overdoses tied to heroin, painkillers and related drugs. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

US experts: Medicines for opioid addiction vastly underused

March 20, 2019 - 2:15 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's top medical advisers say medicines proven to treat opioid addiction remain vastly underused in the U.S.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report Wednesday that found only a fraction of the estimated 2 million Americans addicted to opioids are receiving medications.

The influential group's conclusions echo similar reports from the U.S. Surgeon General and a presidential commission appointed by President Donald Trump.

Among the biggest barriers: stigma, rules that limit their availability and a lack of training in prescribing the drugs among health professionals.

The latest government figures show deaths linked to opioids rose to nearly 48,000 in 2017, a record.

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