US may reverse HHS guidelines allowing for easier buprenorphine prescription

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President Joe Biden's administration is preparing to block the previous administration's last-minute effort to allow physicians to prescribe buprenorphine more easily, anonymous sources familiar with the plan told the Washington Post.

On Jan. 15, HHS said it would update its guidelines to exempt physicians from the X waiver, a requirement mandated by Congress in 2000 that necessitates physicians receive a day’s training before they can prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that treats opioid addiction and chronic pain. Before he was elected, President Biden's plan to end the opioid crisis supported this measure.

However, since President Biden took office, legal experts have warned the White House administration that HHS is not authorized to issue guidelines that allow physicians to eschew requirements Congress mandated, sources told the newspaper.

"Unfortunately, the Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder announced by the Trump administration in its last days had significant legal and clinical concerns," a draft announcement obtained by the Washington Post reads. "The Biden administration will not issue the guidelines previously announced."

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