HHS Will Revise Regulations on Prescribing Buprenorphine for Opioid Addiction

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will remove some obstacles that limit the ability of doctors to prescribe buprenorphine for patients who are addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers, The Huffington Post reports.

Under current regulations, doctors who are certified to prescribe buprenorphine (sold as Suboxone) are allowed to write prescriptions for up to 30 patients initially. After one year, they can request authorization to prescribe up to a maximum of 100 patients. The HHS will develop revisions to the regulations “to provide a balance between expanding the supply of this important treatment, encouraging the use of evidence-based [medication-assisted treatment], and minimizing the risk of drug diversion,” the department said in a press release.

In areas hard hit by opioid addiction, doctors’ buprenorphine treatment slots can fill up quickly, the article notes. One recent study found buprenorphine treatment is unavailable in U.S. counties where more than 30 million people live.

Full story of prescibing Bupreonorphine for opioid addiction at drugfree.org

Some Experts Say Naloxone Alone Isn’t Enough to Address Opioid Addiction Crisis

As more states expand access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, some experts say more is needed to address the opioid addiction crisis, USA Today reports. Opioids include heroin as well as prescription drugs such as oxycodone.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a law or developed a pilot program allowing naloxone to be administered by professional or lay persons. In some states, such as Ohio, people who administer naloxone must have specific training. Other states, such as Colorado, encourage education about overdoses and naloxone, but do not have training requirements.

Eric Fulcher, an emergency room physician at Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, told the newspaper he generally supports wider access to naloxone. He is concerned, however, that new laws that expand naloxone access “totally ignore” the overall problem of addiction, and may signal an underlying acceptance of intravenous heroin use. “Politicians will feel like they’ve dealt with the problem,” he said.

Full story of naloxone and opioid addiction at drugfree.org