Virtual prescriptions for opioid addiction may soon expire

A plastic skeleton in front of the White House covered in plastic medicine bottles.

The protest art installation “Pill Man” includes a skeleton covered with prescription bottles of oxycodone and methadone by Massachusetts man Frank Huntley, who used it when he became addicted to over-the-counter opioids.
photo: Brendan Smyarowski/AFP (Getty Images)

People with opioid use disorder may soon lose access to home treatment and prescription services once legal deadlines expire. For those seeking treatment, at-home telehealth and prescription services facilitate safe access to life-saving medications at home while avoiding the stigma of addiction.

politics First reported that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had previously missed a deadline to extend virtual visits to buprenorphine. Now, some health care professionals worry that the agency could be spending a lot of time establishing easy access. This drug is used as a way to reduce dependence on heroin or methadone and is often used to treat opioid addiction. DEA hesitant to prescribe online Although Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration officials told reporters that telehealth drug-assisted therapy “Very effective at connecting people to care… [and] Also help them stay there. “

According to SAMSHSA, only 11 percent of people with opioid use disorder receive medication.Part of the problem is universal access to medicines, but in many cases patients are often afraid stigma related to their addictionn As a result, they Avoid face-to-face help.

The DEA reportedly promised to permanently enshrine access to telehealth, but the agency has missed multiple congressional deadlines in 2018 and 2019, Politico reported. Their obvious hindrance is the fear that buprenorphine might be sold on the street. The federal regulations enacted in 2020 to allow healthcare professionals to prescribe buprenorphine online are due to expire later this year in conjunction with the public health emergency. In May, the Department of Health and Human Services Extended emergency declaration Mid-July has passed.

Some states, including Vermont, have enshrined access to such telehealth services until 2023, but those criticizing federal enforcement say the agency is extremely hesitant to regulate controlled substances. The DEA declined to comment on Politico’s story.

Published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse a study Last October, the report said buprenorphine abuse actually decreased from 2015 to 2019. In 2019, fewer than 18 percent of people with opioid use disorder received medication-assisted treatment, “due in part to stigma and barriers to accessing these medications,” the authors wrote.

And it’s especially hard to get the drug. Not only are healthcare providers often required to go through regulated programs, but doctors are also limited in the number of patients they can treat at one time, according to NIDA.

“High-quality medical practice requires safe and effective treatments for health conditions, including substance use disorders,” NIDA Director Nora Volkow said of buprenorphine. “This includes providing life-saving medicines to people with opioid use disorder.”

recent study The availability of most opioid relievers, such as the life-saving overdose treatments naloxone and buprenorphine, was tracked. The researchers showed that at nearly 5,000 pharmacies in 11 states, the availability of alternative medicines was between 31% and 85%. The drug is harder to find outside of cities, where it is sold in less than a third of pharmacies in states like California.

in an interview timethe authors of the drug availability study said the results could mean that people in the healthcare industry often see buprenorphine as “an optional part of their healthcare practice” rather than “Our best tools Helping people with opioid use disorder. “

That’s not to say remote doesn’t have its downsideshealthy. Vokow told Politico that problems can arise when you proliferate these services. She cited mental health startup Cerebral defendant by former employees Overprescribed drugs.

Those dealing with addiction are compound interest. Lack of reported anti-addiction drugs Naloxone supply shortage Too. Part of the problem lies in manufacturing disruptions and inefficient distribution networks.

But at the same time, the opioid crisis remains a major problem across the U.S. state. and new drug Accelerating the lethality of abuse, latest SAMHSA Research Shows that 3.4% of the U.S. population (9.5 million people) abused opioids in 2020.

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