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Support for Health Care Providers who Prescribe Methadone

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A new service for health care providers prescribing methadone to treat chronic pain or opioid addiction — the Physician Clinical Support System (PCCS-M) — has launched with a mechanism to connect prescribers of methadone with experienced clinicians for one-to-one mentoring regarding the use of this medication.

Methadone is an inexpensive opioid medication that has several unique properties that make it particularly well suited to the treatment of chronic pain or opioid addiction, but it also has side effects and the potential for overdose and requires specific information for its proper use.

The new service is one in a number of federally-funded projects that address the need within the nation's health care system to provide safe and effective care of patients with chronic pain and opioid addiction while, at the same time, protecting the public from prescription drug abuse and diversion of medications.

Using this new service, prescribers can contact a mentor, a knowledgeable colleague, by phone or e-mail with specific questions about the use of methadone for treating chronic pain or opioid addiction with methadone.

It also provides a website, www.PCSSmentor.org, from which anyone can download helpful clinical information and materials such as patient information sheets and screening instruments as well as brief, evidence-based reviews on commonly encountered but sometimes difficult clinical questions.

This service has been available since 2003 for physicians who are incorporating buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction into their practices. Now it is expanded to prescribers who are using methadone to manage chronic pain or to treat opioid addiction in a federally licensed opioid treatment program.

The Physician Clinical Support System for Methadone (PCSS-M) has organized a group of practicing physicians with expertise in management of pain as well as treatment of opioid addiction to serve as mentors, on request, by e-mail, phone, or, in some cases, in person.

The Physician Clinical Support System for Buprenorphine (PCSS-B) has been providing the same service to physicians providing buprenorphine treatment for patients dependent on prescription opioids or heroin.

Both PCSS-M and PCSS-B are made available to interested physicians and other health care providers at no cost, thanks to support from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), a part of SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. To receive the services from PCSS, prescribers may call PCSS at 877-630-8812, or register online at www.PCSSmentor.org.

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