Biden Takes Buprenorphine Mainstream

The Biden administration is loosening restrictions on prescribing the lifesaving drug buprenorphine—proven to reduce opioid relapses and overdose deaths, NPR reports.
Studies have also shown that those taking the medication are less likely to develop HIV or hepatitis C, or to be unemployed or imprisoned, The Washington Post notes.

The context: US overdose deaths—the majority involving opioids—topped 90,000 in the 12-month period ending in September 2020.

Plus: The lack of physicians in some rural areas have made buprenorphine hard to come by—pushing the drug onto the black market, NPR reports.

How the new guidelines work: Released yesterday, they nix the training requirement that has been a barrier to many practitioners offering the treatment. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants and certified nurse midwives are among those eligible to prescribe the drug under the new rules.

The Quote: “We don't have any other medical condition where you as a doctor are told, "By the way, you can only prescribe these medications if you go through this special training and you get a waiver. And by the way, you can only treat so many patients,” says Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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