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Published on Monday, March 11, 2024

APhA response to joint governmental call to increase access to MOUD

Washington, DC – The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) appreciates the collaborative support announced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to break down access barriers to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). Although legislation and regulatory policies removed major hurdles to accessing buprenorphine, an important treatment for OUD, new barriers have been erected, making it challenging for pharmacists to provide this medication to patients.

“As OUD continues to penetrate communities across the United States, including rural and underserved areas where treatment options are limited, the role of pharmacists and pharmacies in harm reduction for OUD is critical,” said Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, JD, senior vice president of practice, policy, and partnerships at APhA. “Pharmacists dispense buprenorphine and prescribe it where permitted under state law. APhA looks forward to the barriers being removed, enabling our nation’s pharmacists to help patients with OUD.”

Due to increased scrutiny by regulators and wholesalers related to controlled substance orders, buprenorphine access has been tempered across the country for fear that purchases over a certain threshold will trigger a pharmacy to be cut off by the wholesale distributor. The joint letter from DEA, HHS, and SAMHSA to DEA registrants calls on distributors to “carefully examine quantitative thresholds they have established to ensure that individuals with OUD who need buprenorphine are able to access it without undue delay.”

APhA welcomes this call for action and urges the distributor community to act swiftly to realign thresholds for buprenorphine, provide transparency so pharmacies know what those thresholds are, and provide expedited appeals processes if access to buprenorphine, or controlled substances generally, is cut off.

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