Changes in federal rules that made it easier to prescribe the opioid addiction medicine buprenorphine during the early days of the pandemic led to an increase in the number of patients receiving the medication in Texas, HealthDay reports.
The Drug Enforcement Administration relaxed restrictions on outpatient buprenorphine dispensing in March, in response to the pandemic. Because of the changes, clinicians authorized to prescribe buprenorphine were allowed to prescribe to new patients via telephone or telemedicine. They were also allowed to prescribe to existing patients by any method, and were encouraged to use electronic prescriptions.
The researchers compared data on patients receiving outpatient buprenorphine prescriptions in Texas during the 90 days before the declaration of COVID-19 as a national emergency and the 90 days after the declaration. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, they report that there was an increase in new patients prescribed buprenorphine. The number of days per prescription increased, and prescriptions were more likely to be ordered by electronic prescribing.