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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Submits Comments to SAMHSA on Medications for Opioid Use Disorder


    Ki Stewart, Senior Policy and Regulatory Analyst
    For Media Inquiries

    On Feb. 14, the AAMC submitted comments in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking entitled “Medications for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder” issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  

    In the letter, the association strongly supported SAMHSA’s proposal to finalize several COVID-19 flexibilities and waivers, including allowing the initiation of buprenorphine via audio-video and audio-only technology. However, the letter also noted that the Ryan Haight Act requires an in-person visit before prescribing a controlled substance, including buprenorphine. “Even if SAMHSA finalized the proposed policy to permit the initiation of buprenorphine via telehealth,” the letter stated, “the Ryan Haight Act would prevent patients from doing so without an initial in-person visit unless the DEA implements an exception for telemedicine.” The association urged SAMHSA to “work with the DEA to create a registry that allows providers to prescribe controlled substances pursuant to the telehealth registry exception under the Ryan Haight Act.” 

    The letter also supported allowing patients to consent to treatment verbally or with an electronic signature, and the removal of the requirement that a person must have had an addiction to opioids for one year before admission to an opioid treatment program. Finally, the AAMC applauded SAMHSA for “recognizing that language matters” in their proposal to remove potentially “stigmatizing language such as ‘drug abuse,’ ‘detoxification,’ and ‘legitimate treatment use,’ [which] can leave patients feeling demeaned and as a result discourage them from seeking the care they need.”