The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would be expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders by allowing nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to prescribe buprenorphine.
“Today’s action will provide even more access to medication-assisted treatment,” said Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto. SAMHSA will administer the required training for NPs and PAs, who will then be permitted to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 30 patients. The press release also announced HHS plans to increase the number of patients NPs and PAs are allowed to treat at any given time from the 30 to 100 after the first year.
Scott Nolen, Director of OSI-Baltimore’s Drug Addiction Treatment Program said, “OSI has worked for more than a decade to make buprenorphine treatment easily available to all who need it in Maryland and we applaud HHS’s announcement. However, we remain dedicated to reducing stigma in the medical community so that more physicians will recognize the need to be able to provide buprenorphine to their patients.”
In 2006, OSI began a collaboration with the Baltimore City Health Department, Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB), HealthCare Access Maryland, Inc. (HCAM), the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers (MACHC), and the Behavioral Health Leadership Institute (BHLI) to develop the Baltimore Buprenorphine Initiative (BBI). In addition to helping to increase the number of physicians who provide buprenorphine treatment, BBI aims to increase access to effective treatment of heroin and other opioid dependencies, improve the health of patients by integrating substance use disorder treatment with primary care, increase the duration of treatment for patients and create a model of care that can be sustained.