Purdue Pharma finally admitted to their guilt to misleading and misinforming physicians and the medical community about the addiction profile of Oxycodone/Oxycontin. The resultant carnage to society, the opioid epidemic, is still rabidly ravaging the country. The COVID pandemic exponentially worsened the opioid epidemic secondary to a lack of access to the only medication, that has been shown to have any efficacy in the treatment of opioid use disorder, which is Buprenorphine.
Thus, there has been a marked increase in overdoses and deaths during the COVID pandemic. Healthcare facilities unfortunately are still working on making Buprenorphine available to patients in the emergency room because of an overdose. More federal funding has to be infused in opioid addiction treatment programs nationally, to make a dent in this accelerating opioid epidemic. There is no need from a jurisprudence point of view, for a DEA waiver to prescribe Buprenorphine for opioid use disorder. These boundaries and hurdles at the federal regulatory level are fueling the deaths of thousands of Americans every year unnecessarily.
A treatment methodology to slow down and halt the opioid epidemic is low barrier medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD). This methodology involves the use of Buprenorphine as soon as one encounters a patient with opioid use disorder, begin treatment immediately after clinical diagnosis. Thus, there would be minimal barriers to initiating treatment for a patient that has overdosed or is repeatedly admitted to the emergency room due to opioid use disorder.
The future of the improved treatment, and the elimination of relapses regarding opioid use disorder, is to leverage Telehealth/Telemedicine for the delivery and facile access to Buprenorphine, as quickly as possible. Do not delay or hold up treatment due to referring patients to specialists, start treatment immediately upon encountering a patient with clinical opioid use disorder.