January 18, 2021
ASA Applauds HHS Decision to Expand Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
On Jan. 14, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it is releasing updated practice guidelines to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by allowing physicians to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) without certain certification requirements for an x-waiver. This exemption applies only to physicians, not all “qualifying practitioners” defined under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). ASA supports this decision by HHS and believes it will allow patients to have improved access to treatment for opioid use disorder.
ASA supports the removal of barriers, such as the x-waiver, that discourage physicians from being certified to prescribe buprenorphine; physicians having the appropriate authority to treat patients with opioid use disorder is critical to ending the opioid epidemic.
The 12-month period ending in June 2020 saw the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, and an increase of over 21% compared to the previous year. The increase in overdose deaths within the United States highlights the need for treatment services to be more widely accessible for individuals most at risk of an overdose. Without MAT, the possibility of a person relapsing is significant.
ASA applauds HHS for removing these barriers for physicians treating patients with opioid use disorder.
Read the full guidelines from HHS here.