December 15, 2022
HHS Proposes to Expand Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
On December 13, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a proposed rulemaking that would expand access to opioid use disorder treatment to allow physicians to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder via telehealth without an in-person visit. The agency also proposes flexibility on prescribing methadone, which is also used to treat opioid use disorder but would not allow providers to prescribe the drug virtually. ASA supports the efforts by this Administration to address the opioid crisis and improve patients’ access to treatment by the physician of their choice.
SAMHSA also proposes to expand the definition of an opioid treatment program practitioner to include practitioners such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe and dispense these treatments. Providers should become educated on the management of patients with opioid use disorder to help address the ongoing overdose epidemic and ease the persistent health disparities patients are facing.
In 2021, there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States, an increase of nearly 15% from the 93,655 deaths estimated in 2020. 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 Medication-Assisted Treatment, the possibility of a person relapsing is significant
ASA thanks HHS for proposing to remove these barriers for physicians treating patients with opioid use disorder.
Read the proposed rule from HHS.