The shutdown is making it harder to conquer the opioid crisis.
Doctors seeking to prescribe Buprenorphine, a drug to manage opioid addiction, are being blocked by the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.
Physicians must get approval from the Drug Enforcement Agency but staff there are locked out as the nation’s largest-ever shutdown enters its 23rd day.
“Simply put, the DEA, in many ways, holds the keys to accessing critical anti-opioid treatment drugs that New York City and Long Island patients and doctors need to combat this deadly scourge,” Schumer said in a statement.
Research shows that Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, is often a better option than methadone because it does not require daily clinic visits. The drug also has a low potential for abuse and a minimal risk for overdose.
Doctors who prescribe the narcotic need a special certification, a process that requires a minimum of eight hours of additional training. Additionally, the federal government restricts doctors from prescribing it to more than 100 patients unless they obtain a waiver.
It’s not just doctors and opioid patients being hit by the shutdown.
Yasar Ali, 34, works at federal immigration court to provide legal assistance for people facing imminent deportation. The father of two young girls hasn’t been at his post since the shutdown began last month.
“We have rent to pay and household expenses and bills, medical insurance co-pays,” he said. “This happens to be a very difficult time for us to get by. I missed my paycheck and I’m afraid I’m going to need financial assistance just so my children can go to their primary care doctor.”
He has been thinking about moonlighting at another job, but wants to play by the rules and get approval by the federal ethics office to make sure that the new job he gets is appropriate for a governmental employee.
But that office is also closed due to the shutdown.
“I can respect that the President wants more border security, but he shouldn’t hold federal employees as hostages. This is going to have a significant impact on our economy, national security…the country itself.”
Democrats are urging President Trump to stop holding the entire government hostage over his demand for $5 billion plus for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“One person in Washington has decided to throw a political temper tantrum,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez.