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What's in a number? Recommending practicality in the DATA 2000 patient limits

Andrea G. Barthwell, MD, DFASAM, Jonathan M. Young, JD, PhD, Michael C. Barnes, JD, Shruti R. Kulkarni, JD

Abstract


According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2.4 million individuals have an opioid use disorder (OUD). Yet, nearly 80 percent of them—more than 1.9 million people—do not receive treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), specifically with buprenorphine, has proven to be effective in treating patients with OUDs while also reducing costs to the healthcare system, criminal justice system, and workforce. Despite its effectiveness, barriers to MAT continue to exist. Consequently, many individuals must wait months, if not years, to receive treatment. This article analyzes the US Department of Health and Human Services’ final rule (Final Rule) on MAT, common barriers to treatment, and the cost-benefit of treatment in light of the current opioid abuse epidemic. The article finds that while the Final Rule was a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough to adequately address the epidemic. Finally, the article proposes practical recommendations for increasing patient access to treatment for OUDs, including increasing the patient limit for highly qualified addiction treatment providers so that they can practice addiction medicine on a full-time basis and exempting buprenorphine products labeled by the US Food and Drug Administration for direct administration from the practitioner's patient limit.


Keywords


Opioid use disorder, medication-assisted treatment, buprenorphine, DATA 2000

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2016.0339

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