COVID-19 pandemic could improve treatment access for opioid use disorder

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the treatment access for opioid use disorder (OUD) may increase;

Philippa Salter, Neurology Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:

“Despite the availability of multiple effective treatment options for managing OUD, key opinion leaders interviewed by GlobalData highlighted that there are many barriers that prevent these treatments from being accessed. These include the need for patients to travel to specialized treatment clinics and the lack of these clinics in more rural areas.

“As part of the national emergency declared by the US during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government suspended a federal law that required an in-person meeting between a patient and a doctor before an OUD therapy could be prescribed, such as Indivior’s Suboxone. Consultations can now take place via a phone call or video call with a doctor, which not only alleviates the need for the patient to travel to a specialized clinic but also becomes equally available for patients regardless of whether they live in a rural or urban area.

“Telemedicine can also play an important role for the non-pharmacological aspect of OUD treatment, with telemedicine counselling providers enabling patients to continue with a key aspect of their treatment. Telemedicine counselling could also result in an increase in the number of patients who participate in non-pharmacological treatment through making this aspect of treatment more accessible and by allowing patients to access care in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

“It is important that these measures remain in place once the pandemic has passed, in order to help remove some of the access barriers that prevent patients from accessing OUD treatments.” 

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