Doctors, Companies Push to Keep Looser, Pandemic-Era Rules for Prescribing Opioid Addiction Treatment via Telemedicine
Rules for getting medications to treat opioid dependency were relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and advocates now want to make the temporary changes permanent. When the public health crisis got underway, patients were allowed to get prescriptions for buprenorphine, methadone, or other addiction therapies through telemedicine visits rather than through actual in-person appointments, as usually required. Addiction doctors and other advocates say the flexibility has helped to break down barriers to treatment and should not be removed after the emergency has subsided. Preliminary research findings suggest the telemedicine approach is not hurting care outcomes, with patients sticking to treatment and misuse of addiction drugs not getting any worse. Measures are already in the legislative pipeline to preserve the option for telehealth-based prescribing. None have gained much momentum so far, however, and critics continue to raise questions around diversion, access to technology to support telemedicine visits, and privacy.
Read more STAT News.