BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Attorneys general in over 40 states are seeking to make telehealth services prescribing a medication used to treat drug addiction permanent.
According to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, the attorneys general are asking the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to extend a COVID-19 pandemic-created rule allowing buprenorphine to be prescribed through telehealth services. The rule is to expire as the pandemic public health emergency ends.
“The opioid epidemic has destroyed communities across Louisiana and the country,” said Attorney General Landry. “As we continue to hold those that proliferated the epidemic accountable, we must also ensure those suffering from substance abuse disorder have efficient access to treatment.”
If not extended, an estimated 2.5 million adults in the United States could be left without the medication treatment, according to Landry.
“Our nation’s overdose death rate has never been higher and the need to ensure access treatment for individuals with substance use disorders has never been greater,” said the attorneys general in a letter. “Enabling creative, effective strategies, such as telemedicine, is critical to reducing the number of overdose deaths in our country, particularly in underserved areas, and ending the overdose crisis.”
The attorneys general noted how difficult it could be for people who take the medication to get a prescription without telehealth, writing, “an estimated 28 million Americans live more than 10 miles and about 3 million live over 30 miles” from a provider.