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Telehealth changes revert prescribing controlled substances

Some are concerned about Suboxone.
Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 6:17 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The prescribing of controlled substances over telehealth ended this week along with Alabama’s COVID state of emergency. Patients who take controlled substances will have to go back to seeing a doctor in person to get their medication.

One of the groups affected are people presenting new symptoms of pain.

“The big one with that is the initial visit, doctors were always allowed to refill without a visit, so we can refill narcotics without a visit but can’t prescribe new narcotics without an in-person visit,” said Dr. Eric Wallace, a nephrologist at UAB.

Dr. Wallace also says that’s understandable, especially with so many causes of pain.

“Most providers would likely agree that prescribing narcotics over a telehealth visit without ever seeing that person would be problematic,” explained Wallace.

He is concerned about another controlled substance no longer allowed to be prescribed via telehealth. ”Another group of drugs that gets categorized in that same category is suboxone, which is a medication trying to get people off of those narcotics,” said Wallace.

He believes relaxing those telehealth restrictions could help more people who may not have the means to get to the doctor.

“Based on the opioid epidemic, that’s currently ongoing, and probably getting worse because of COVID,” said Dr. Wallace.

He says Alabama’s laws do not allow that prescription, and he hopes that changes following the pandemic.

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