DEA announces step to increase opioid addiction treatment

DEA announced Tuesday a deregulatory measure that will make it easier for individuals in underserved areas to receive treatment for opioid addiction.

DEA announced Tuesday a deregulatory measure that will make it easier for individuals in underserved areas to receive treatment for opioid addiction. The measure, published in the Federal Register, permits nurse practitioners and physician assistants to become DATA-Waived qualifying practitioners, giving them authority to prescribe and dispense buprenorphine from their offices. Before the Drug Abuse Treatment Act of 2000 was enacted, only physicians could treat opioid addicts and were required to register with DEA as both physicians and operators of Narcotic Treatment Programs. The move brings DEA's regulations into conformity with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was passed by Congress and signed into law 2 years ago. Because most DATA-Waived physicians before CARA were in urban areas, rural parts of the country were underserved. The new DEA action will provide more treatment options for addicts in rural areas. At present, there are nearly 43,000 DATA-Waived qualifying practitioners in the United States.