Questions About Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and what is buprenorphine (Suboxone)?

Medication assisted treatment is an effective strategy to treat opioid use disorder (in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy). The most promising medication used for MAT is buprenorphine: it treats withdrawal symptoms, cravings, as well as pain and has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of opioid addiction and dependency. Patients are often able to live normal lives with this medication, and in comparison to methadone without the need to go to methadone clinics every morning. It also has been shown to lower the risk of potentially deadly opioid overdoses.

Is this truly remote or will I need to have an in person visit?

We are a truly telemedicine-based addiction service. Because of the coronavirus emergency, the DEA recently granted certified addiction specialists the use of telemedicine technology to prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone) to existing as well as new patients without an initial in-person visit. The DEA and Department of Health recognized that this medication prevents overdose deaths and is safer than regular opioids and therefore this exception has been granted.

Can QuickMD start me on Suboxone if I have never used it before?

Yes, if it is determined by our addiction specialist that you would benefit from MAT using buprenorphine (Suboxone), we are able to initiate it (also known as ‘Induction phase’) using telemedicine technology. Your first prescriptions will have a lower quantity of tablets–no more than a week supply–in order to closely observe the individual effects the medication may have on you and to find your optimal dose. Once the medication has been titrated to the optimal dose, we will be able to space out the consultations to a monthly basis (with a month supply of buprenorphine–the maximum amount as per the guidelines of SAMHSA of the Department of Health and Human Services).

How much does it cost to get counseled and prescribed buprenorphine (Suboxone) at QuickMD?

We believe that everyone should have access to opioid addiction counseling and treatment, without the need to drive to addiction clinics. Currently no initial in-person consultation is required for new patients. All visits need to be done via video or telephone (chat is not allowed), and costs $99–no hidden fees.
We do not accept any insurance, however most insurance providers will cover the cost of the Suboxone/Buprenorphine. If you plan to not use your insurance or if you are uninsured, you may use a coupon that makes the medication more affordable (depending on the pharmacy and strength you are on, between $75-150 per month for a generic Suboxone prescription).

Why is it so difficult to get MAT and Buprenorphine (Suboxone)?

Only a small number of doctors in the United Stated are allowed to prescribe buprenorphine–and these doctors have a limit on how many patients they can prescribe buprenorphine to (only 30 patients per doctor initially). And with the growing opioid epidemic affecting millions of Americans, there are just not enough MAT clinics and opioid treatment centers available to provide this desperately needed service–and many existing addiction programs are taking advantage of the suffering with steep fees and unethical business practices. QuickMD is trying to fill this void, by providing affordable, transparent and high-quality addiction treatment directly to you–to make this as least disruptive to your life as possible.

How effective is medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with Suboxone for opioid use disorder?

Buprenorphine (Suboxone)–when prescribed and taken correctly–has been shown to significantly lower the chance of drug use, overdoses, relapse, while improve patient survival. It leads to a significantly higher chance to gain and maintain employment. In order words: MAT can help you turn your life around and live a normal life again. It should always be combined with counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

What does the process look like to get buprenorphine with QuickMD?

During your first consultation the doctor will ask you questions regarding your history, opioid use, motivation to quit, social support and more. You will discuss the pros and cons of buprenorphine with you and assess if you are a good candidate for it. If it is deemed safe, you will receive your first prescription of buprenorphine–usually the same day. The prescription of your first consultation will be for a week supply, after that on a monthly basis. Only if you have been on the medication without interruption, without changing pharmacies, we provide you with a month-long supply the first time.
The sign-up and intake process for that part only takes a few minutes: Create an account, then either choose to see a specialist right away, or pick a time that best fits into your schedule. Prescriptions of buprenorphine will then be electronically sent to your pharmacy. Usually within minutes you will be able to pick up your medication. Please note that in some cases the pharmacy may have to order the medication which usually takes around one to two days. In other cases the QuickMD addiction specialist needs to individually verify the prescription with the pharmacist, which may cause some delay (so make sure to refill at least 2-3 days before running out so you do not go into withdrawals if your pharmacy has to order it). Important: Please note that a prescription is not guaranteed and will only be provided when it is deemed safe and beneficial to do so by our addiction specialist.

After a QuickMD consultation, how long until I can pick up the buprenorphine from my pharmacy?

Your pharmacy will receive the electronic prescription usually shortly after the consultation. If it is a first-time prescription for Suboxone (buprenorphine) the pharmacist will need to verify the prescription and prescriber which may take several hours. For follow-up prescriptions it usually takes around ~30-45 minutes to get your medication ready for pick-up, unless the pharmacy has to order it. At times the pharmacist will need to verify the prescription individually with the QuickMD provider, which may delay things. Please make sure to schedule your follow up appointments a few days before you run out of your medications as we typically cannot switch pharmacies once the medication was successfully dispensed at a particular pharmacy.

Is online medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder safe?

The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic affecting millions of Americans, and killing tens of thousands each year–with no end in sight. The majority of people with opioid use disorder (OUD) do not have access to treatment services. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with buprenorphine is an important part of the solution to combat the opioid crisis, and the federal government and DEA acknowledges this and therefore made it a top priority to increase access to MAT. QuickMD is aiding in this goal, and our mission is to provide affordable and convenient access to high-quality addiction services for everyone.

The DEA recently granted certified addiction specialists to use telemedicine technology to prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone) to existing and new patients without an initial in-person visit.

Is there a treatment agreement I have to abide by?

Similar to an in-person Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, we also require our patients to agree to a ‘Treatment Agreement‘ that our patients need to agree to and abide by when receiving treatment through QuickMD. Please familiarize yourself with the document before your first consultation with us, and please also review the ‘Consent to Treat’ document, which is required to consent to when being treated by us.

What is the advantage of Suboxone/Buprenorphine over methadone?
Buprenorphine was shown to be safer than methadone, even at higher doses, because it only works to a certain extend like an opioid while at the same time also blocking the opioid effect, therefore preventing some of the bad effects of opiates. Compared to methadone, it treats opioid withdrawal more quickly and it is easier to taper. There is also less of a public stigma associated with buprenorphine than methadone. And finally, buprenorphine does not require the patient to go to special methadone clinics each day. Of course, we will be happy to go over the pros and cons of each available therapy with you.
Will the addiction counseling and treatment be confidential?
Yes, the QuickMD consultation is 100% confidential and private. Our platform is encrypted and HIPAA-compliant and we do not sell your information to third parties for profit. Just like an in-person doctor visit, what you share with our specialists is 100% protected. If you agree to communication by email for additional information, please note that emails are not always secure.
Can QuickMD refer me to counseling? And what other resources are there for opioid-use disorder?

Note that MAT should always be accompanied by counseling (cognitive behavioral therapy). QuickMD is working with an FDA-approved digital cognitive behavioral therapy program which we can provide to our patients for free–if your household income is less than $85k per year. If you make more than that, we can still refer you to that program, but the therapy program will incur a fee of $1,600 per 12 weeks, unless it is covered by your insurance provider.
Here are some other resources available: SAMHSA’s National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP), Narcotics Anonymous and Smart Recovery.

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