SCNM class of 2019 student Carleigh Golightly and some of her classmates recently attended the DC Federal Legislative Initiative (DCFLI) during the 115th Congressional session in Washington, D.C. They presented three requests that will greatly benefit how current and future naturopathic doctors elevate their profession and improve outcomes for their patients.
The first initiative dealt with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Care Act, which currently prevents naturopathic doctors from prescribing Suboxone, a drug often used to reduce opiate addiction and withdrawal. Medical doctors, physician’s assistants (PA) and nurse practitioners (NP) are among those who are currently allowed to prescribe the medication, however naturopathic doctors have yet to be cleared to do the same. Carleigh pointed out that naturopathic doctors have a more rigorous path to licensure than many PAs and NPs and there is simply a lack of awareness on the part of legislators to realize the importance of including NDs’ utilization of Suboxone as a part of combatting the opioid crisis.
Preserving patient access to many elements in compounded pharmaceuticals was the basis of the second request that the SCNM team presented. The current USP formulary includes more than 400 compounding agents that are allowed when creating a customized prescription. After a recent Meningitis outbreak, the FDA reviewed the list of ingredients that compounding pharmacies frequently use, and many were determined not to be of enough value to be included. Initially, it was a positive measure to ensure the quality and consistency of compounds, but has become overly cautious. Carleigh gave an example of a common vitamin used in numerous compounds that was eliminated due to its perceived low value despite evidence demonstrating its benefits in many pharmaceuticals. Approximately seventy ingredients are currently under review for re-inclusion, but progress is slow. Carleigh hopes that highlighting this issue will result in the ability for patients and prescribers to continue to access all necessary elements in compounded medicines.
The third initiative proposed was for congresspeople to join the Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus, which keeps them up to date with the latest research and legislation in integrative wellness. In 2017, representatives Jared Polis (D-Colorsdo) and Mike Coffman (R-Colorado), launched the Integrative Health and Wellness Congressional Caucus in the House of Representatives. The caucus is a bi-partisan educational forum for lawmakers to receive up to date information related to best practices and new research directly from experts in the field, and to discuss legislative and administrative opportunities for integrative health. Many legislators are open to natural medicine once they have the facts regarding it's efficacy and positive impact on patient outcomes. The Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus is vital to providing this education, so the more legislators that participate, the better it will be for the naturopathic community.
Carleigh stated,"The the rise of functional medicine within the conventional medical community is indicative of the market’s receptiveness to what naturopathic doctors offer." She emphasized that attending the event is an extremely important to the furthering of the profession, as she was able to actually meet face to face with members of Congress to speak on these issues. She hopes that more SCNM students will participate in the trip next year, as it is not only providing a service to the naturopathic community, but also a great opportunity to explore the city and bond with classmates. Carleigh concluded that each of the initiatives was warmly received and the work done during the trip will benefit both naturopathic physicians and their patients. Thank you to everyone that participated in DCFLI 2018!
For detailed documents on initiatives presented at DCFLI 2018, click here.