HHS Expands Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Eliminates X-Waiver Requirement for DEA-Registered Physicians

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is announcing it will publish Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder*, to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by exempting physicians from certain certification requirements needed to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.

More than 83,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in June 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, and an increase of over 21% compared to the previous year, according to recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The increase in overdose deaths highlights the need for treatment services to be more accessible for people most at risk of overdose and today's action will expand access to and availability of treatment for opioid use disorder.

"The medical evidence is clear: access to medication-assisted treatment, including buprenorphine that can be prescribed in office-based settings, is the gold standard for treating individuals suffering from opioid use disorder," said Adm. Brett P. Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health. "Removing some of the certification requirements for an  X-waiver for physicians is a step toward providing more people struggling with this chronic disease access to medication assisted treatment."

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