“The Obama administration announced a major policy shift Thursday in its efforts to combat the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic. Speaking at a conference on opioid addiction in Northern Virginia, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said her agency would rewrite regulations to remove some of the obstacles that have prevented greater involvement from doctors in treating those addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers.
In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction. But federal regulations stipulated that doctors first must be certified to prescribe the medication. They are then limited by how many patients they can treat with the drug: In their first year of prescribing, doctors can only treat 30 patients at any one time. In subsequent years, federal regulations permit them to go up to 100 patients. This past spring, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation that would raise the first-year cap from 30 patients to 100 and offer nurse practitioners and physician assistants the ability to prescribe the medication. After one year, doctors could seek to remove the cap entirely. With the new bill, doctors would have to be certified as “substance abuse treatment specialists” or go through an approved training before their patient caps could be lifted.
When asked if the revised regulations would reflect the Markey or Clinton proposals, Burwell told The Huffington Post, “We are going to get a lot of good input from both the Hill and the public at large. … We will get contributions from everyone.” HHS hopes to have the proposed revisions ready by the end of the year, according to a spokesperson.”
Source: HuffingtonPost.com – September 17, 2015