In an effort to get evidenced-based treatment to more Americans with opioid use disorder, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is releasing new buprenorphine practice guidelines that among other things, remove a longtime requirement tied to training, which some practitioners have cited as a barrier to treating more people.
Signed by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, the Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder exempt eligible physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives from federal certification requirements related to training, counseling and other ancillary services that are part of the process for obtaining a waiver to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine.
More than 90,000 drug overdose deaths are predicted to have occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in September 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and overdose deaths have continued to accelerate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The alarming increase in overdose deaths underscores the need for more accessible treatment services, and studies have shown that medication-based treatment promotes long-term recovery from opioid use disorder.
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