Starting August 14, methadone patients face the very real possibility that their long-protected privacy will be gone. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) final rule on the regulation 42 CFR Part 2 allows opioid treatment programs (OTPs, known as methadone clinics) to put patient information into prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). The confirmed rule was published last month, following the release of the proposed rule a year ago.
Organizers and proponents of PDMPs—electronic databases that enable doctors and other prescribers, pharmacists and law enforcement to track prescribing of controlled substances—will undoubtedly want to add methadone prescriptions to these widely available records.
Whether states will agree—or instead side with methadone patients, who want their information kept private and OTPs, which generally take the same line—is uncertain. But a clear message came from the National Governors Association earlier this month: PDMPs can be money-makers.
On August 10, the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) issued recommendations, mainly related to consent, advising OTPs to make sure patients know what they’re “consenting” to in the release of their information.