CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire said a move by the Biden administration to ease decades-old requirements that made it difficult for doctors to treat opioid addiction using medication is a step in the right direction.
New guidelines announced Tuesday mean doctors and other health workers will no longer need extra hours of training to prescribe buprenorphine, a gold standard medicine that helps with cravings. And they no longer have to refer patients to counseling services.
Under the loosened guidelines, prescribers will be able to treat up to 30 patients at a time with the drug.
Hassan, a Democrat, led a bipartisan effort to eliminate a waiver for prescribing buprenorphine.
“It never made any sense that the law made it harder to prescribe the treatment than it did to prescribe opioids," she said in a statement Tuesday. “For too long, these burdensome requirements have prevented Americans from getting the treatment that they need."
Hassan said the announcement “is a step forward in removing some of the barriers in accessing medication-assisted treatment."
Buprenorphine helps by moving a patient from powerful painkillers or an illicit opioid like heroin to a regular dose of a legal opioid-based medication.
Besides doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified nurse midwives and some other types of nurses will be able to prescribe buprenorphine without first getting special training.