*JANUARY 28, 2021 UPDATE*  The announced buprenorphine guidelines discussed below have not gone into effect.  US DHHS’ announcement itself noted that the action was still subject to review.  Recent news reports have stated that the proposed guidelines are being withdrawn for further evaluation.  Board staff will provide further updates when available.



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ANNOUNCES NEW GUIDELINES FOR THE PRESCRIBING OF BUPRENORPHINE FOR THE TREATMENT OF OPIOID USE DISORDER.  On January 14, 2021, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced the issuance of new guidance concerning buprenorphine prescribed and administered for the treatment of opioid use disorder.  These changes are intended to make treatment services “more accessible for people most at risk of overdose.”  US DHHS’ new practice guidelines exempt physicians from certain certification requirements needed to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment.  Under the new guidelines:

  • The exemption only applies to physicians who may only treat patients who are located in the states in which they are authorized to practice medicine.
  • Physicians utilizing this exemption will be limited to treating no more than 30 patients with buprenorphine for opioid use disorder at any one time (note: the 30 patient cap does not apply to hospital-based physicians, such as Emergency Department physicians).
  • The exemption applies only to the prescription of drugs or formulations covered under the X-waiver of the CSA, such as buprenorphine, and does not apply to the prescription, dispensation, or use of methadone for the treatment of OUD.
  • Physicians utilizing this exemption shall place an "X" on the prescription and clearly identify that the prescription is being written for opioid use disorders (along with the separate maintaining of charts for patients being treated for OUD).
  • An interagency working group will be established to monitor the implementation and results of these practice guidelines, as well as the impact on diversion.

More information, including a link to the US DHHS guidelines, is found here:  https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/01/14/hhs-expands-access-to-treatment-for-opioid-use-disorder.html