Assessment of Filled Buprenorphine Prescriptions for Opioid Use Disorder During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Published in: JAMA Internal Medicine (December 2020). doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.7497

by Thuy D. Nguyen, Sumedha Gupta, Engy Ziedan, Kosali Ilayperuma Simon, G. Caleb Alexander, Brendan Saloner, Bradley D. Stein

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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has profoundly disrupted health care delivery in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted a 9.1% increase in reported 12-month counts of drug overdose deaths from March 2019 to March 2020, from 67,726 to 73,860. On March 13, 2020, a COVID-19 national emergency was declared. To diminish potential barriers to treatment access, 3 days later, federal guidelines on telemedicine use were released, providing authorized practitioners increased flexibility to prescribe buprenorphine to patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) during this public health emergency. Other local, state, and federal policy initiatives have also attempted to preserve access to medication treatment for OUD, yet the cumulative outcome of these undertakings is not clear.

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