PDAPS | Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System

Increasing Access to Buprenorphine and Methadone During COVID-19

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Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) treatment uses medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including buprenorphine and methadone, to treat people with opioid use disorder (OUD) in combination with counseling. Early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government through the Drug Enforcement Agency, relaxed certain telehealth provisions, including allowing controlled substances to be prescribed via telehealth without the need for an initial in-person visit. Through early guidance documents, states advised measures that would expand upon this federal baseline to increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder, urging for a further relaxation in telehealth requirements, a removal of prior authorization requirements, an extension of prescription lengths for take-home doses, and naloxone co-prescribing. This dataset examines whether and how states followed this federal lead and integrated such guidance into their statutes, regulations, and executive orders during COVID-19 to increase access to buprenorphine and methadone medications for opioid use disorder treatment.

Currently, this dataset reflects measures passed through statutes, regulations, and executive orders. This may not reflect state action taken through other paths, such as Medicaid guidance documents, though we are planning to develop a version of this dataset with a broader scope to capture additional state actions taken to increase access to buprenorphine and methadone during the COVID-19 pandemic. State authorities are welcome to provide additional documentation reflecting such measures; we encourage them to reach out to us at phlr@temple.edu

This dataset is cross-sectional and displays key features of state laws increasing access to buprenorphine and methadone during COVID-19 across all 50 states and the District of Columbia approved as of June 1, 2021. The data were created with support from JCOIN grant U01DA050442 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse as part of the NIH HEAL Initiative.

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