'This is how it needs to be': Physicians call for permanent changes to addiction medicine

Regulatory reforms the government rolled out amid the pandemic have significantly improved patients' access to addiction care, according to STAT.

The new regulations permit physicians to prescribe buprenorphine after evaluating patients by video chat or phone, instead of in person. Some patients are also receiving a 28-day supply of methadone, eliminating the need to travel to an addiction clinic daily to receive a single dose of the drug. 

Many physicians said they want to see some of these new policies stay after the pandemic ends. At present, most regulatory changes are set to expire when the pandemic is no longer deemed a national emergency. 

"You can't put the genie back in the bottle," Stephen Loyd, MD, a Tennessee-based addiction specialist, told STAT. "This is how it needs to be — always."

Many addiction medicine physicians argue that these newfound flexibilities represent "long-sought change that could positively transform patient care for decades to come," according to STAT.

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