A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposal that would limit telehealth prescriptions for buprenorphine to an initial 30-day supply until the patient can be seen in person by a physician is raising concerns among addiction medicine advocates, Roll Call reports.
During the pandemic, the DEA allowed providers to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction through telehealth without requiring an in-person visit. Providers said the flexibility was especially helpful for patients without transportation or those who lived in areas with a shortage of physicians.
“This could mean the difference between continuing therapy and going back to their addiction,” Brock Slabach, chief operations officer for the National Rural Health Association, told Roll Call.
The DEA says it needs to transition to an approach that takes into account the risk of diversion of buprenorphine.
In a comment letter addressing the DEA proposal, the American Society of Addiction Medicine said it is “extremely concerned” about the “disproportionate weight” the DEA is giving concerns about buprenorphine diversion “even when it may mean reducing appropriate access to [opioid use disorder] treatment that benefits public health and safety.” The group said the decision to evaluate a patient in person should be left to a clinician, not a regulator.