Limits on virtual addiction treatment may soon return, making care harder to access
For some clinicians and regulators, a return of the earlier rules is necessary to protect against prescription drug abuse. After all, lax regulatory oversight in 1990s gave rise to painkiller pill mills, which fueled the country’s original opioid epidemic. Others argue reverting back to the old way of treatment will set back patients trying to fight their opioid addiction.
This is why virtual prescribing of controlled medications is telehealth’s most controversial frontier.
And that puts policymakers in a tough spot.
“You have people who are really in need of this and telehealth could really help them,” says Courtney Joslin, resident fellow at the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank. “On the other end, you do have that hesitancy because of the pill mill problem, previously, [so] you could have some abuse from both patients and providers using telehealth to get controlled substances.”