Addiction Policy Forum Blog

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The Paradox of Diverted Buprenorphine

By Mark Gold, MD on April 19, 2019

Buprenorphine, a μ-opioid (pronounced mu-opioid) receptor partial agonist, is a highly effective, evidence-based medication for treating opioid use disorders (OUD). In order to prescribe buprenorphine, qualifying practitioners must obtain a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which places strict limits on the number of patients they may treat annually. Previous legislation and regulation meant buprenorphine treatment existed nearly entirely outside the traditional healthcare system. Despite legislation that increases the number of patients a doctor can prescribe to, and allowing individual medical providers to become certified, there is still hesitation among many providers over becoming certified to prescribe the medication, many waivered physicians do not have many patients on buprenorphine - some waivered physicians have none at all.

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