MD Magazine: UMass Medical School to study best treatments for substance use disorder, hepatitis C in prison populations

December 30, 2015

A study of the best treatments for substance use disorder and hepatitis C for justice-involved populations will be led by UMass Medical School, according to an article posted on the MD Magazine website, HCPLive.com. 

Implementation science experts will work with treatment teams at four prison and jail systems in the United States to test the implementation of evidence-based practices in substance use disorder and to improve hepatitis C screening and treatment.

“Our job will be to coach and facilitate the teams to implement treatment systems,” and to document what they did and how they did it, Warren J. Ferguson, MD, professor and vice chair of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School, told HCPLive.com. Ferguson is also director of academic programs for the medical school’s Health and Criminal Justice Program, and founder and co-chair of the Academic and Health Policy Conference on Correctional Health.

Ferguson told HCPLive.com that the correctional health initiative’s objective is to increase adherence to care standards particularly among high-risk populations. One of those standards is to treat with new direct acting antiviral drugs anyone infected with hepatitis C who may have signs of liver dysfunction. Paying for those drugs may be difficult for prison systems, Ferguson said, but it may help to negotiate lower prices with drug companies or seek federal funding pricing.  

The National Institute of Drug Abuse and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality are funding the initiative. The funding will also pay for the development of an Implementation Science Track at the correctional health conference, hosted by the Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health and supported by UMass Medical School.

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