HHS Releases Updated Guidance for Giving Patients Buprenorphine

April 30, 2021

The Biden administration is implementing a Trump-era proposal that enables healthcare professionals to more easily administer the opioid addiction treatment buprenorphine.

The updated HHS guidelines waive the requirement for doctors and healthcare professionals to undergo special “training, counseling and other ancillary services” to treat patients with the drug, which is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance. But practitioners making use of the waiver may not treat more than 30 patients at a time, HHS said.

HHS said it was spurred to act by startling new data on drug overdoses, which have risen sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 90,000 U.S. deaths from overdoses are estimated to have occurred from September 2019 to September 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The uptick in deaths emphasizes “the need to expand access to evidence-based treatments, including buprenorphine that can be prescribed in office-based settings,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine.

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