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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

HHS Announces Effort to Revise Patient Caps for Buprenorphine Prescribers

September 24, 2015 | Addictions | Workforce | Comments
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Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held a two-day, 50-state convening of state representatives to identify needed federal policy changes to prevent opioid overdose and abuse. During the course of the discussion, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the agency’s intention to revise current caps limiting the number of patients that can be seen by buprenorphine prescribers.

According to HHS, of the 2.5 million people in need of addiction treatment services, less than half are receiving them. To help close this gap, HHS announced its intention to revise regulations related to prescribing buprenorphine. Current regulation caps the number of patients providers can prescriber buprenorphine within the first year. After that first year, the cap is raised to 100 patients. HHS’ proposed revisions would aim to provide a balance between expanding the supply of this treatment, maximizing the use of evidence-based treatment practices, while also minimizing the risk of drug diversion.

“Updating the current regulation around buprenorphine is an important step to increasing access to evidence-based treatment – helping more people get the treatment necessary for their recovery,” said Burwell.

During the drafting process, the Department is unable to share any information until the draft regulation is released. The National Council will continue to monitor the situation and update Capitol Connector readers as we know more.

Other areas of discussion at the two-day convening included improving opioid prescribing practices, increasing access to naloxone and expanding the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). “The opioid epidemic knows no boundaries; it touches lives in cities, rural counties and suburban neighborhoods across the country,” said Secretary Burwell. “That’s why it’s so important that we come together – both state and federal leaders – and take a coordinated and comprehensive approach to address this crisis. We all have a role to play and fortunately we share common ground and a common commitment to end this crisis.” For more information on the Department’s efforts, click here.