HSS Releases New Buprenorphine Practice Guidelines

On April 27th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new buprenorphine practice guidelines, which include the decision to allow any physician with a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) license to treat up to 30 in-state patients with buprenorphine. Currently, doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners must complete a training and receive a waiver (referred to as the “X-waiver”) before prescribing buprenorphine.

HHS had released similar guidance to remove this training requirement under the Trump administration on January 14th, but the Biden administration froze this proposal, along with many other new regulations, in late January. The new announcement allows physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse midwives to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine. Those providers will still need to submit a notice of intent to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that they intend to prescribe buprenorphine.

“Increases in overdose deaths emphasize the need to expand access to evidence-based treatments, including buprenorphine that can be prescribed in office-based settings,” said Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health. “These guidelines provide another tool to help communities respond to the evolving overdose crisis, equipping providers to save lives in their communities.”