American Medical Association urges governors to adopt new DEA guidance

The American Medical Association is urging governors across the country to give physicians flexibility in treating opioid-addicted patients.

According to the AMA, new guidance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration would allow physicians and other health professionals with waivers to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder the ability to prescribe and renew prescriptions after telephone evaluations.

According to the DEA, “DATA-waived practitioners should feel free to prescribe buprenorphine to new patients with OUD for maintenance treatment or detoxification treatment following an evaluation via telephone voice calls, without first performing an in-person or telemedicine evaluation.”

The AMA said the move allowed for continued care for opioid use disorder during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This guidance removes a considerable barrier for many patients during this national emergency and, importantly, allows them to stay at home,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “The AMA commends the DEA for its new policy and urges all states to take this action to support greater access to treatment for patients with opioid use disorder.”

The new policy went into effect on March 31 and will continue throughout the COVID-19 emergency.