(RightWing.org) – In early 2020, the world changed. People needed to wear masks, and in-person interactions were cut back — the public was forced to do almost everything from home. Because doctors’ offices and med centers could be ground zero for passing on infections, former President Donald Trump’s Administration eased guidelines on how medical professionals could prescribe potent and addictive drugs, leading to an explosion in the telehealth industry. President Joe Biden, through the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), announced “Proposed Rules for Permanent Telemedicine Flexibilities.”
Back to Normal?
The new regulations would appear to coincide with the anticipated final expiration of the public health emergency first declared under Trump. Health professionals who are legally allowed to prescribe drugs, such as doctors and some nurse practitioners (NP), depending on the state where they practice, will be required to have a face-to-face meeting with their patients in some cases.
The DEA defined medicine as either “controlled” or “non-controlled,” with the former, which are then divided into Schedules using the Roman numerals I-V, from most to least number of restrictions, Schedule I are those that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” such as:
Schedule V includes such drugs as pregabalin (Lyrica) used to treat fibromyalgia and neuropathy. One drug on the Schedule III list that has caused some controversy and concern is buprenorphine (Buprenex) which is used to treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).
Under the proposed DEA rule, Schedule III drugs such as buprenorphine may be filled as a single 30-day prescription by a telehealth professional, but any refills would require an in-person evaluation. This change has caused some, like Liberal activist lawyer Matthew Cortland, to say the new rule creates a difficulty that is “indefensible. This will kill people.”
If the Biden Administration actually cares about preventing overdose deaths, it would not be making it more difficult to access buprenorphine. This is indefensible. This will kill people. pic.twitter.com/GZQ6E8NCYM
— Medicaid Matthew Cortland (they) (@mattbc) February 25, 2023
As isolation took hold in 2020 and forward, telehealth diagnoses of ADHD rose sharply, as did prescriptions for drugs such as Adderall, jumping from 35.5 million in 2019 to 41.2 million in 2021, according to a press release on Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger’s (D-VA) webpage. Adderall is a Schedule II drug, joining others like painkillers Vicodin and OxyContin. This new rule would mean that anyone who has not had an actual physical office visit would no longer be eligible to receive prescriptions for these medications.
With the increasing number of prescriptions written, the nation is suffering from a shortage of Adderall and similar drugs, but apparently, getting a clear answer as to the exact cause is next to impossible, even for a member of Congress. However, there are some, such as Dr. Shawna Newman, an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry and neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, who believe that the ease of telehealth appointments and an increase in ADHD-related content on social media may have led to many misdiagnoses.
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