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Congress eliminates need for waiver to treat opioid use disorder

Congress eliminates need for waiver to treat opioid use disorder

California Medical Association
January 20, 2023


In its year-end omnibus legislation passed on December 23, 2022, Congress took steps to a expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Under the new law, physicians no longer must obtain a special federal waiver to prescribe buprenorphine, which is used to treat patients with opioid use disorder.

The California Medical Association (CMA) supports efforts to increase access to much-needed medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. Across the country, many people suffering from opioid use disorder are unable to access medication-assisted treatment for their condition due to a lack of nearby physicians with waivers to prescribe buprenorphine.

Going forward, all prescriptions for buprenorphine only require a standard U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registration number. Additionally, there are no longer any limits or patient caps on the number of patients a prescriber may treat for opioid use disorder with buprenorphine.

Section 1263 of the Omnibus spending bill (the Medication Access Training Expansion Act) also establishes new training requirements for all prescribers of controlled substances, which will take effect June 21, 2023. The new law requires all prescribers of schedule II – V controlled substances to meet a one-time eight-hour training requirement on identifying, treating, and managing patients with opioid or other substance use disorders. (Certain physicians – including those board certified in addiction medicine – will be deemed to have met this training requirement through their specialty training and/or board certification. Click here for more details.)

DEA and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are actively working to provide additional guidance on these requirements.

CMA will publish more details as they become available.


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