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The White House
For Immediate Release

Statement from White House Drug Policy Director on Federal Register Notice Providing Physicians More Discretion in Treating Opioid Addiction with Buprenorphine

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, issued the following statement regarding a new rule allowing opioid treatment programs more flexibility in dispensing buprenorphine.  The rule removes restrictions on the time a patient needs to be in treatment before receiving take home medicine.

“Our nation is struggling with a prescription drug epidemic and we must take advantage of every tool at our disposal to address this public health and safety crisis,” said Director Kerlikowske.  “As with any other chronic illness, substance use disorders may require medications like buprenorphine to treat successfully.  By helping doctors provide better treatment options to their patients, we can expand the number of Americans successfully treated for opioid addiction and continue our work to treat our Nation’s drug problem as a public health issue and not just a criminal justice issue.” 

Opioid addiction is driven in large part by the abuse of prescription pain medicine, one category of prescription drugs that may be abused or misused.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 6 million Americans were current non-medical users of prescription drugs in 2011. To address this epidemic, the Administration has released Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis. A national framework for reducing prescription drug diversion and abuse, the plan supports the expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, more convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home, education for patients and healthcare providers, and reducing the prevalence of pill mills and doctor shopping through enforcement efforts.

For more information on the Federal Register notice, click here.

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