Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist medication for opioid use disorder (OUD), reduces overdose mortality rates.1 Yet, amidst a national epidemic of opioid-related deaths, 40% of the 2.4 million persons with OUD receive pharmacologic treatment, much less continue treatment.1 Federal policies surrounding buprenorphine constrain its wider use through separate US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)–amended licenses (“waivers”) after approved training.1 Removing buprenorphine prescribing regulations in France yielded increases in its use by persons with OUD.2 Notably, deaths from opioid overdoses in France declined 79% over the subsequent 3 years.2 If extrapolated to the United States, this translates to more than 30 000 fewer annual deaths from opioid overdoses. We propose deregulating the prescription of buprenorphine for treating OUD. We discuss the rationale for the current regulations, the evidence for deregulation, and a framework based on rational policies to ensure that deregulation achieves its intended purpose while minimizing consequences.
Fiscella K, Wakeman SE, Beletsky L. Buprenorphine Deregulation and Mainstreaming Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: X the X Waiver. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online December 26, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.3685
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