AOAAM applauds SAMHSA for taking a conservative approach
in raising the limit to prescribe buprenorphine for SUD
July 6, 2016: Today the Obama Administration took further action to address prescription opioid and the heroin epidemic. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is issuing a final rule to increase from 100 to 275 the number of patients that qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorders can treat. Providers, policymakers, advocates, and experts have pointed to the current 100 patient limit for buprenorphine prescribing as a barrier to opioid use disorder treatment. AOAAM is pleased that SAMHSA raised the number far below the 500 limit that some had proposed, and also set up safeguards to prevent diversion. The rule aims to increase access to medication-assisted treatment and associated behavioral health supports for tens of thousands of people with opioid use disorders, while preventing diversion.
“Clinics throughout the country, particularly in urban areas, have had long lists of people waiting to receive buprenorphine, an opioid partial agonist. The number goes up from 100 to 275 patients in August. The line gets shorter; that is the beginning. I want to thank President Barak Obama, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and all the staff burning midnight oil at SAMHSA, “says AOAAM President William Morrone, DO.
In addition to raising the proposed patient limit from 200 to 275, the final rule revised the qualifications for the higher limit to include board certification in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry from the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) or the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or certifications by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, ABAM or ASAM.
Dr. Morrone says that this is one of the fastest responses he has witnessed. “This is bigger than flu shots, bigger than pneumonia. More people die from drug overdose than from motor vehicle accidents or guns. This is stealing young people in their prime. We are losing mothers and fathers of small children. Additional prescribers and access to behavior health treatment is key in helping those individuals who struggle with opioid use disorder.”
The final rule will become effective on August 5, 2016.