remove methadone from its preferred drug list, in 2013.

The AAPM urges insurers around the nation to follow suit. Since methadone is a low-cost, long-acting analgesic that lasts up to eight hours, public policies that designate methadone as a preferred chronic painkiller may unintentionally contribute to increasing overdoses.

Credit: Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts
Credit: Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts

Washington state decided not to take the pain medicine off its preferred list and currently has the third highest methadone death rate in the country, after Maine and Utah.

The state decided, “It was not the drug’s problem, it was the prescribers’ problem,” Dr. Charissa Fotinos, deputy chief medical officer for the Washington State Health Care Authority, told the Pew Charitable Trusts.

While evidence shows that methadone is an addictive and hazardous drug, numerous physicians claim it continues to be an essential tool for treating opioid addiction.

The World Health Organization still considers methadone maintenance treatment to be the most effective therapy for heroin users. The organization highlights that there are recent, groundbreaking methadone programs helping thousands of people in deprived places, such as Tanzania.