BOSTON (WWLP) – Opioid-related deaths continue to plague not just our state, but the country as a whole.
On Friday, a letter was sent to federal officials to help those who struggle with substance use disorder obtain treatment. 45 Attorneys General from across the country signed onto the letter in hopes of continuing a treatment that became popular during the pandemic.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed doctors to prescribe buprenorphine during telehealth appointments. The drug is one of three medications approved for treating opioid use disorder.
However, being able to prescribe the drug via telehealth will end when the federal public health emergency expires. According to the Letter, over 100,000 Americans died from fatal overdoses just last year. Without this extension, it is estimated that 2.5 million U.S. adults would be cut off from this treatment.
In a statement, Attorney General Maura Healey said: “As our nation faces record-high overdose death rates, we need to remove barriers to care and expand access to treatment for those struggling with this crisis. Allowing for continued access to these telehealth services will provide the support and flexibility that individuals with substance use disorder need.”
In June the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced that buprenorphine will still be able to be prescribed via virtual appointments, but nothing has been done to solidify that change. Last year, an estimated 2,290 people in Massachusetts died due to a fatal overdose.