DEA Action Supports NP, PA Prescribing Authority for Opioid Addiction Treatment

January 23rd 2018
Jennifer Barrett

A new measure announced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will expand access to opioid addiction treatment by allowing nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) in underserved areas to prescribe and dispense buprenorphine.

A new measure announced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will expand access to opioid addiction treatment by allowing nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) in underserved areas to prescribe and dispense buprenorphine.

According to a press release, the action will expand access to medication for opioid addiction to residents in rural areas with limited access to physicians. As published today inthe Federal Register, NPs and PAs can now become DATA-Waived qualifying practitioners, which gives them authority to prescribe and dispense buprenorphine from their offices.

According to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which was passed in 2016, NPs and PAs who completed required training and sought to prescribe buprenorphine to up to 30 patients were able to apply for authority to prescribe the medication.

Prior to the CARA, most of the DATA-Waived physicians served urban areas, leaving rural parts of the United States underserved. After the CARA’s enactment, the DEA began the process of transitioning mid-level practitioners into DATA-Waived status.

The DEA cited a report published by the National Rural Health Association, in which 90% of DATA-Waived physicians practice in urban counties, with 53% of rural counties lacking any prescribing physician. According to the press release, many rural patients must travel long distances to access outpatient buprenorphine treatment.

Reference

DEA announces step to increase opioid addiction treatment [news release]. DEA’s website.https://www.dea.gov/divisions/hq/2018/hq012318.shtml. Accessed January 23, 2018.

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