States that have declared states of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic should request blanket exceptions from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recommend.
The exceptions would allow patients in an opioid treatment program to obtain up to 28 days of take-home medication if they are stable. Patients who are less stable, but can safely handle take-home medication, would be given up to a 14-day supply.
“During this pandemic, it is critical for patients to be able to access medication without delay,” said Dr. Patrice A. Harris, AMA president and chairwoman of the AMA Opioid Task Force. “With public transportation limited and social distancing being recommended, physicians know that their patients might not be able to come to the opioid treatment program on a daily basis. Physicians need this flexibility so their patients can keep up with life-saving prescription regimens.”
Individual state-opioid-treatment authorities must make the request, the AMA and ASAM said.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued a memo March 16 informing states that they can seek a blanket exception. The administration said it supports opioid treatment programs during the health crisis.