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University at Buffalo medical school credited for opioid prescription training

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo was among 60 medical schools nationwide cited by the White House on Tuesday for efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

The announcement came as the Obama administration unveiled new measures intended to help curb the nation’s opioid epidemic at a summit on prescription drug abuse in Atlanta, Ga.

The measures build on the president’s proposal for $1.1 billion in new funding to help every American with an opioid use disorder who wants treatment get the help they need.

The medical schools require students to take some form of prescriber education, in line with the newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“Long before opioid addiction became a front-page issue, faculty in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences were leaders in developing formal curricula to teach medical students, residents and fellows how to prevent and treat addiction,” Dr. Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the UB medical school, said in a statement.

Those efforts were led in large part by Dr. Richard Blondell, professor of family medicine at UB and vice chair for addiction medicine, who sees patients through UBMD Family Medicine.

“UB was an early adopter in terms of instructing our students on safe prescribing,” Blondell said.

In addition to instructing medical students, Blondell and other physicians in addiction medicine have worked to get the field approved as an established subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which occurred earlier this month.

“The approval of this subspecialty creates a pipeline of trained addiction medicine doctors who have undergone rigorous training program and passed rigorous exams, all of which documents that they are, indeed experts in preventing and treating addiction,” Blondell said.

Among the measures the Obama administration announced:

• The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a proposed rule to increase the current patient limit from 100 to 200 for qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid-use disorders.

• The agency released $94 million in new funding to 271 community health centers earlier this month to increase substance use disorder treatment services to more patients.

• The president called for creating a task force to advance access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as a new rule to strengthen access to mental health and substance use services for people enrolled in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program plans by requiring that they be comparable to medical benefits.


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