April 17, 2020

Senators Warren, Markey, Shaheen, Feinstein, and Hassan Call on Trump Admin. to Reduce Barriers to Lifesaving Opioid Treatment Medication During Coronavirus Health Emergency

Call for expanding treatment capacity of our nation’s addiction specialist physicians to help ensure continued access to medication-assisted treatment

Text of Letter (PDF)


Boston, MA – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) are calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to ensure patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) can continue to access life-saving medication assisted treatment, in particular, buprenorphine, during the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter sent today, the senators highlighted that barriers to treatment and dangers of treatment interruption are magnified for patients suffering from opioid use disorder during the pandemic. As physicians who prescribe medication-assisted treatment may be unavailable, patients with OUD are further placed at risk for relapse, overdose, and overdose death. The senators specifically call on HHS and SAMHSA to immediately increase the number of patients that physicians authorized to treat patients with buprenorphine may see from 275 to 500, as well as to immediately process requests for emergency patient-limit increases.


“You can and should take immediate action to ensure that patients with OUD are not denied the medication they need, do not exacerbate the strain on our nation’s emergency departments and hospitals, and, most importantly, are not added to the COVID-19 death count,” write the senators in their letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and SAMHSA Assistant Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz. “We must empower our heroic health care providers to treat and save as many lives as possible in this time of crisis.”