Biden administration to expand access to most effective addiction medication
Congressman Brian Higgins announced major progress in the fight against opioid addiction, following news by the Biden administration that it would expand access to the most effective medication for opioid addiction, buprenorphine.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced additional challenges that serve to exacerbate opioid addiction factors and make fighting the epidemic difficult,” Higgins said. “We have pushed for increased access to buprenorphine to help combat opioid addiction for a long time, and this move by the Biden administration signals welcomed progress for both patients and our country.”
Currently, before a doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner is allowed to prescribe buprenorphine, they must first undergo a separate training and apply for a waiver, known as the “X-waiver.” The proposed change would remove these barriers and allow any prescriber to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine.
The move comes while a record number of Americans die from a drug overdose as a result of additional stressors brought about by the pandemic, Higgins’ office said. “According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between September 2019 and September 2020, more than 87,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, with the number expected to climb even higher.”
Higgins has been fighting for the use of buprenorphine to combat opioid addiction since 2015, when he introduced The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment, or TREAT, Act, which aimed to improve treatment options for those struggling with opioid or heroin addiction through the increased access of buprenorphine.