On January 23, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it has expanded the types of licensed providers allowed to prescribe the narcotic drug buprenorphine for opioid addiction. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants may now prescribe the drug.Currently the majority of approved buprenorphine prescribers are physicians in urban areas. The DEA sees this deregulatory measure as a way to make it easier for residents of underserved areas to receive treatment for opioid addiction from mid-level practitioners.
The latest change brings DEA regulations in line with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, signed into law in 2016, which added categories of practitioners who may prescribe buprenorphine for maintenance or detoxification treatment. The full text of the final rule may be found here.