Opioid overdoses have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Forty states have reported increases in opioid deaths. Back in May, some states reported increases in ODs as high as 40%.
Overdose deaths in Maryland were up by almost 3% during the spring after years of declining numbers. Numbers are particularly high for deaths from illegally manufactured fentanyl.
The American Medical Association thinks one way to combat the number of overdoses is to ease restrictions on prescribing opioids and other pain medication.
Many states, including Maryland, set limit for the quantity an dosage of opioids that can be prescribed to patients. In Maryland, providers must obtain a prior authorization every six months to prescribe long-acting opioids, fentanyl products, methadone for pain and opioids above 90 milligram equivalents per day.
Patients must also sign an agreement stating the risks of opioids have been explained to them and doctors must offer Nalaxone prescription to the patient or a member of their household.
However, the AMA is calling on Governors in all states to relax these rules. “States must remove existing barriers for patients with pain to obtain necessary medications. This includes removing arbitrary dose, quantity and refill restrictions on controlled substances.”
The group also called for easing of restrictions on drugs like methadone to treat opioid addiction.
Additionally, they asked states to remove any barriers to telemedicine. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order back in April to allow healthcare providers in the state to use telehealth platforms.
The AMA also called for more sterile needle exchange programs and the distribution of Nalaxone.
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