Baltimore physician defies federal law to deliver opioid addiction treatment via telemedicine

For the last two years, Eric Weintraub, MD, a psychiatrist with the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, has defied federal law by providing treatment for opioid addiction via telemedicine to patients at a halfway house in Hagerstown, according to a report from Politico.

When Dr. Weintraub speaks with these patients remotely before ever meeting them in person, he violates a 2007 federal law. However, he feels the need to provide this service, since the Hagerstown community has a lack of physicians who can prescribe and oversee treatment with Suboxone, which is a controlled substance. Suboxone is a dissolvable mouth strip that contains a mix of buprenorphine and naloxone. The medication delivers a low opioid dose and is taken daily to minimize withdrawals and curb cravings.

"I'm not a guy in a trailer in the mountains prescribing drugs," Dr. Weintraub told Politico. "We just felt this was a major public health crisis, and we had an effective, evidence-based treatment."

In Washington County, where Hagerstown is the county seat, opioid-related deaths surged more than 500 percent between 2010 and 2016. A total of 120 people in the county died of an opioid overdose in 2015 and 2016, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in October, thereby expandeding access to telemedicine services for addiction. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration has yet to revise its regulations on the matter.

To read Politico's full report, click here.

More articles on opioids: 
Opioid epidemic cost US $95B in 2016 
FDA OKs nerve stimulation device for opioid withdrawals 
Former Insys CEO to plead not guilty in opioid scheme indictment

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