Some addiction experts are hopeful that more patients will be treated with the opioid use disorder medication buprenorphine now that Congress has made it easier for doctors to prescribe it, NPR reports. But others are concerned stigma could undermine efforts to expand access.
In legislation signed by President Biden late last year, Congress eliminated the so-called “X-waiver” that required clinicians to complete an eight-hour training in order to prescribe buprenorphine. Clinicians could only treat a limited number of patients, and were required to keep special records. Only 7% of U.S. clinicians were allowed to prescribe buprenorphine.
Dr, Rahul Gupta, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said eliminating the waiver will ultimately prevent millions of deaths. He and others hope buprenorphine will be prescribed in many settings including emergency rooms, primary care clinics and rehabilitation facilities.
Obstacles to more widespread use of buprenorphine remain, the article notes. Many primary care doctors do not have experience managing people with substance use disorder and the complications they have. Some clinicians are apprehensive about using an opioid to treat opioid use disorder, despite compelling evidence it saves lives.