Certain Health Professionals Can Now Prescribe Buprenorphine – Without a Waiver

May 21, 2021

Last week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new practice guidelines that will allow physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine.

Previously, only physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners could prescribe buprenorphine – and only after taking the required training to obtain a “waiver” (a special buprenorphine license).

Opioid-involved deaths spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the new guidelines.

According to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90,000 drug overdose deaths are believed to have occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in September 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period!

Health professionals will still be required to submit a notice to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that they intend to prescribe buprenorphine.

For more information, access SAMHSA’s FAQs About the New Buprenorphine Practice Guidelines.

You can also contact the ISMS Health Policy Research and Advocacy team by email if you have questions.

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