HHS updates guidelines for easier prescription of buprenorphine

HHS said Jan. 14 it will update its guidelines to allow physicians to more easily prescribe  buprenorphine, a drug that treats opioid addiction and chronic pain.

The department's updated guidelines will exempt physicians from certain certification requirements necessary to prescribe the drug for opioid use disorder treatment. 

Before the updated guidelines, physicians seeking to prescribe buprenorphine outside of opioid treatment programs were required to complete an eight-hour course, often waiting 60 to 90 days to receive their waiver once the course was completed.

"Removing some of the certification requirements for an X-waiver for physicians is a step toward providing more people struggling with this chronic disease access to medication assisted treatment," HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, MD, said in a news release.

Physicians who utilize the exemption must only treat patients located in the states in which they are licensed and may treat no more than 30 patients with buprenorphine for opioid use disorder at any one time.

The American College of Emergency Physicians issued a statement Jan. 14 supporting the measure in which its president, Mark Rosenberg, DO, called the X-waiver " an outdated and cumbersome barrier to treatment."


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