On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 22 senators sent a letter to the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), urging HHS to bump up the number of patients physicians can treat with buprenorphine to 500—more than the bump to 200 patients that federal leaders had suggested in a proposed rule in March.
HHS has authority through the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) of 2000 to increase the number of patients physicians can treat with buprenorphine, which prevailing rules currently have set at 30 initially, with a maximum of 100 patients. The legislators believe the cap should be set at 500 to increase access for patients.
In the letter, they also referenced S. 1455, the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act, which calls for the authorization of physicians to treat an unlimited number of patients after one year, provided that they agree to participate in a prescription drug monitoring program. Further, it also expands the authority to prescribe buprenorphine to midlevel practitioners—something SAMHSA plans to test with demonstration projects.
According to Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who led the proposal, 500 is “a more appropriate cap.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.