UM medical residency program lands funding for opioid training

Dr. Ned Vasquez, left, director of the University of Montana’s Western Montana Family Medicince Residency program, said the opioid grant will provide resources and training. (Missoula Current file photo)

Supplemental funding from the federal government will help the University of Montana’s medical residency program provide opioid training at its clinic in Missoula, as well as outlying communities.

The Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana said this week it received $80,000 in additional funding to carry out the training and to host the Montana Pain Conference scheduled for April.

The funding comes in addition to the $1.7 million grant the program receives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“This is an excellent opportunity for FMRWM to provide resources and education to our partner communities regarding this very significant health issue, and to manifest the program’s mission in new and tangible ways,” said Dr. Ned Vasquez, the residency program’s director and one of the grant’s principal investigators.

Between 2000 and 2015, more than 690 deaths in Montana were attributed to prescription opioid poisoning, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Drug overdoses also remain the third leading cause of death in Montana, accounting for 1,334 fatalities between 2003 and 2014.

In early December, the Montana Attorney General filed a lawsuit in District Court against Purdue Pharma, a major opioid manufacturer, claiming it misled patients and doctors about the drug’s ability to curb pain while failing to disclose its addictive power.

Fox said an investigation conducted by his office found that since the late 1990s, Purdue had engaged in deceptive marketing practices designed to manipulate physicians who prescribe the drug. At the same time, he said, those physicians were not made aware of OxyContin’s addictive nature.

“There is an incredible need in our Montana communities for opioid training and education, and we are excited to use these dollars to help highly motivated providers better serve their communities and increase patient satisfaction,” said Dr. Marc Mentel, a faculty member at the family medical residency.

Mentel said the additional funding will enhance and expand the training offered to primary care providers across Montana in opioid abuse, prevention and treatment. The funding will also go toward integrating opioid-related training into the core curriculum of the residency training program.

The residency program, based out of Partnership Health Center in Missoula, will also work with its 10 rural training sites to offer expanded opioid training and offer reduced conference fees for rural providers.

“It’s all about maximizing and enhancing local resources for better rural health,” said Mentel.