White House Drug Policy Director Writes Governors about Need for Trained Doctors to Provide Treatment for the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic in their States
Federal government is offering free buprenorphine trainings for providers across the country
Washington, D.C. – Today, Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, wrote to all 50 Governors about the urgent need for more doctors to be trained and certified to treat people with prescription opioid and heroin use disorders. The Obama Administration is offering free buprenorphine trainings for providers all across the country and online. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which includes the use of FDA-approved medications like buprenorphine, has proven more effective at helping people with opioid use disorders enter into long-term recovery. Other FDA approved medications to treat individuals with opioid use disorders are naltrexone and methadone.
As of February 2016, however, 1,489 counties did not have at least one physician with a buprenorphine waiver or someone to dispense buprenorphine from a doctor’s office. The vast majority of need for these treatments is in rural areas.
“Research shows that access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) saves lives by significantly increasing the likelihood of successful recovery for people with opioid use disorders. Unfortunately, there are not enough physicians trained to use MAT and prepared to treat people with the disease of addiction,” wrote Director Michael Botticelli. “To help address the need for treatment providers, the Administration offers free buprenorphine trainings for physicians across the country through the Providers Clinical Support System for MAT. These trainings, called DATA 2000 waiver trainings, provide information to physicians on treating individuals with opioid use disorders."
The DATA 2000 waiver program was established by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 to create a system by which physicians could be trained to treat patients who have opioid use disorder with medication-assisted treatment. After being trained, physicians can be certified by DEA to properly and safely administer buprenorphine to individuals with opioid use disorders.
Federal and State agencies have used their authorities to take every available action they can to address the opioid epidemic. In July of this year, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule that increases from 100 to 275 the number of patients qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorders can treat.
To fully address the crisis, however, Congress must act to provide additional funding to make lifesaving treatment available to everyone who seeks it. The President has called for $1.1 billion in new funding for States to help expand access to treatment.
More information on the process for prescribing or dispensing buprenorphine is available here: http://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment.