The following statement is attributable to:
Patrice Harris, M.D., M.A.
Chair, AMA Opioid Task Force
Immediate Past President, American Medical Association
“The AMA strongly endorses today’s decision by HHS to allow physicians to prescribe without a waiver highly effective medication for the treatment of patients with opioid use disorder. Patients are struggling to find physicians who are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine; the onerous regulations discourage physicians from being certified to prescribe it. The AMA urged HHS to change the regulations last year in order to remove a major barrier to reducing the nationwide epidemic of drug-related overdose and death.
“With this change, office-based physicians and physician-led teams working with patients to manage their other medical conditions can also treat them for their opioid use disorder without being subjected to a separate and burdensome regulatory regime. Ensuring physician-led teams for treating patients with opioid use disorder is critical to ending the opioid epidemic. Removing the waiver requirement can also help lessen the stigma associated with this treatment and the persistent health disparities in treating substance use disorders.
“It is estimated that more than two million Americans need treatment for opioid use disorder, but only a small percentage actually receive treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported an acceleration of overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made accessing care more challenging.”
“Treatment with buprenorphine allows patients with opioid use disorder to lead satisfying, productive lives. The policy announced today is a critically important step in making that happen.”
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The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.