The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced new guidelines that allow doctors more flexibility in prescribing buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction, NPR reports.
The new guidelines state that buprenorphine is considered the gold standard treatment for opioid use disorder.
HHS is eliminating the requirement that doctors obtain a special federal waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. Doctors were required to take an eight-hour course to receive the waiver.
The American Medical Association (AMA) praised the change. “With this change, office-based physicians and physician-led teams working with patients to manage their other medical conditions can also treat them for their opioid use disorder without being subjected to a separate and burdensome regulatory regime,” Patrice Harris, M.D., chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, said in a statement. “Ensuring physician-led teams for treating patients with opioid use disorder is critical to ending the opioid epidemic. Removing the waiver requirement can also help lessen the stigma associated with this treatment and the persistent health disparities in treating substance use disorders.”