The federal government is easing restrictions on medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction in light of the coronavirus, Mother Jones reports.
Social distancing is nearly impossible for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who must visit clinics for daily doses of opioid addiction medication, the article notes. People who use opioids are especially vulnerable to the virus because they tend to have much higher rates of health conditions such as HIV, hepatitis C and chronic bronchitis.
Normally, the 350,000 Americans who rely on methadone clinics for daily treatment are required by law to take their medication at the clinic. They often wait in long lines to take their doses in a supervised setting. On Monday, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said it is allowing for four weeks of take-home doses for stable patients, and two weeks for less-stable patients who the clinic believes “can safely handle this level of take-home medication.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration this week announced initial consultations for prescribing buprenorphine can be done virtually. Previously, providers had to meet prospective new patients for evaluation in person, instead of using telemedicine.