A bipartisan group of 45 state attorneys general urge the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to permanently extend telehealth flexibilities after the expiration of the public health emergency for prescribing buprenorphine, one of three Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications for treating opioid use disorder.
Buprenorphine is one of three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients suffering from addiction. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA allowed doctors to prescribe the medication through telehealth services but the rule allowing buprenorphine to be prescribed will set to expire once the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.
In March 2020, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the DEA allowed audio-visual telemedicine services to prescribe all Schedule II-V controlled substances, including buprenorphine. If the telemedicine flexibilities are not made permanent, the consequences will be grave for the 2.5 million Americans who utilize buprenorphine for treating opioid use disorder. The letter highlights the significance of how the existing telehealth flexibilities are critical for assisting individuals with opioid use disorder. The current policy for telehealth services also expands access of buprenorphine to patients who may have previously struggled to receive the medication.