HHS ups buprenorphine prescribing to treat opioid addiction

In a speech today, President Obama announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a new proposed rule to increase the current patient limit for qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction.

The proposed rule will increase the patient limit to 200 patients from 100 for physicians who have been trained and waivered for more than a year to prescribe buprenorphine.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has long been an advocate for raising or eliminating the patient limit for buprenorphine prescribers.

“Increasing the buprenorphine cap to 200 patients is an important first step by the Obama Administration,” Dr. Jeffrey Goldsmith, president of ASAM, said in a statement.

“The American Society of Addiction Medicine believes it is vital to continue pressuring Congress to assure that access to treatment is increased through legislation,” he added.

Currently, buprenorphine is only available in tablet and film formulations that require self-administration by patients on a daily basis. Titan Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:TTNP) Probuphine is an investigational subdermal implant designed to deliver buprenorphine continuously for six months following a single treatment, and to promote patient compliance and retention.  The Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA recently voted in favor of approving Probuphine. The FDA has set a May 27 PDUFA date.