Nearly all doctors can freely prescribe opioids. Now a new movement aims to vastly deregulate an addiction treatment
Washington – Eighteen state public health directors, a growing group of physicians, and a prominent member of Congress are pushing a dramatic expansion of substance use treatment by posing a simple question: Why can’t doctors who prescribe opioids also prescribe drugs to treat opioid addiction?
Their push to deregulate use of buprenorphine, which is used to lessen opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, would represent a fundamental shift in U.S. addiction treatment. The medication — and addiction medicine in general — are highly regulated, largely due to fears that opioid-based treatment drugs like buprenorphine and methadone could be misused.
This week, the effort will gain support from Washington: Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) will soon introduce legislation to allow any medical practitioner licensed to prescribe controlled substances to prescribe buprenorphine, he told STAT. Currently, physicians must undergo an eight-hour training to prescribe the drug — 24 hours for nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
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