Although some rules for opioid addiction treatment have been loosened during the COVID-19 pandemic, an in-person visit is still required to start methadone treatment, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Some doctors are seeking to change that requirement to lower the risk of viral transmission. By Monday, more than 320 addiction specialists had co-signed a letter sent to Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, asking to be allowed to evaluate some new methadone patients remotely.
Many physicians “are currently unwilling to perform physical examinations without adequate [personal protective equipment], which may lead to a significant decrease in access for new or readmitted methadone patients,” the letter states.
The federal government recently allowed people to get an initial evaluation for the opioid addiction medication buprenorphine remotely. In a statement, Dr. McCance-Katz said her agency believes it has already balanced the clinical care and safety needs of people with opioid-use disorders and the American people.
COVID-19: Accessing Critical Medications for Your Loved One
For those using or considering pharmacotherapy, also known as medication-assisted treatment, to treat opioid use disorder, we have guidance to help ensure there is no lapse in care due to COVID-19 circumstances.