Waivers to Allow PAs and NPs to Prescribe Buprenorphine Vary by State

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Joanne Spetz, PhDProfessorPhilip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy StudiesSan Francisco, CA 94143-0936

Dr. Spetz

Joanne Spetz, PhD
Professor
Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies
San Francisco, CA 94143-0936 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Medication treatment is an important component of treatment for opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine has been the focus of policies designed to increase access to treatment and is the most widely-used medication due to well-established evidence of its efficacy and its accessibility outside licensed narcotics treatment programs. The most common brand name for this medication is Suboxone.

There is a shortage of providers authorized to prescribe it, in part because only physicians were permitted to obtain waivers from the Drug Enforcement Agency to prescribe it outside of licensed narcotics treatment programs until the opioid bill of 2016. That bill granted nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) the ability to apply for waivers. However, in states that require NPs and/or PAs to be supervised by or collaborate with a physician, there are additional requirements regarding the training of the physician before the NP or PA can apply for a waiver. This affects nearly half of states for NPs, and all states for PAs.

We found that the average percentage of NPs with waivers was 5.6% in states that do not require physician supervision, but only 2.4% in more restrictive states. Even after adjusting for other factors, we found that the percentage of NPs with waivers was 75% higher when physician oversight is not required. We didn’t find a similar result for PAs, probably because they must have physician oversight in all states.  Continue reading

Buprenorphine Exposures Among Children and Adolescents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gary Smith, MD, DrPH Director, Center for Injury Research and Policy Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus, OH

Dr. Smith

Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH
Director, Center for Injury Research and Policy
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Columbus, OH

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Buprenorphine is a prescription opioid medication commonly used to treat opioid use disorder. From 2005 to 2010, the annual number of individual patients who received a buprenorphine prescription increased from 100,000 to more than 800,000. Although buprenorphine is important for the treatment of opioid use disorder, pediatric exposure to this medication can result in serious adverse outcomes.

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More Medicaid Enrollees Receiving Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, But Disparities Remain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bradley D. Stein MD PhD Senior Physician Policy Researcher Pittsburgh Office Rand Corporation

Dr. Stein

Bradley D. Stein MD PhD
Senior Physician Policy Researcher
Pittsburgh Office
Rand Corporation

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Increasing use of medication treatment for individuals with opioid use disorders, with medications like methadone and buprenorphine, is a critical piece of the nation’s response to the opioid crisis. Buprenorphine was approved by the FDA in 2002 for treatment of opioid use disorders, but there was little information about to what extent buprenrophine’s approval increased the number of Medicaid-enrollees who received medication treatment in the years following FDA approval nor to what extent receipt of such treatment was equitable across communities.

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