American Medical Association Statement on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Decision to remove Barriers for Opioid Treatment| site |

(Information contained in American Medical Association [AMA] press release dated: January 14, 2021)

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.”