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September 21, 2015.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) has announced new steps to increase access to treatments for opioid dependence and prevention of opioid overdose. Among the planned changes, reports BioDelivery Sciences International (Raleigh, NC), is a move to expand access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) by revising the regulations that limit the prescribing of buprenorphine to treat opioid dependence.
HHS reports that 2.5 million people in the U.S. currently need treatment for opioid dependence; however, fewer than 1 million are receiving it. Under current regulations, physicians certified can prescribe buprenorphine treatment for opioid dependence for up to 30 patients initially and then after one year can request authorization to prescribe up to a maximum of 100 patients. As a result, access to care is limited and physicians are often forced to turn away patients seeking care.
Dr. Mark A. Sirgo, President and Chief Executive Officer of BioDelivery Sciences said that the move "is a major step forward in providing access to treatment for patients and their families who are dealing with opioid addiction".