Buprenorphine is intended for the treatment of pain and opioid addiction. Qualified physicians, under the certification of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), were given approval to prescribe this narcotic drug. Each physician was allowed to prescribe buprenorphine to a totally of thirty patients at a time outside a clinic-based treatment program. On December 29, 2007, the limit was increased to 100 patients per physician, and each of those physicians had to meet specific criteria.
Here are some statistics:
- Suboxone and Subutex, both buprenorphine bases medications, are the only treatment drugs that meet the requirement of this exemption.
- There are nearly 15,700 physicians who have been approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the DEA for office-based narcotic buprenorphine treatment.
- Of those physicians, approximately 13,150 were approved to treat up to 30 patients per provider, and
- 2,500 were approved to treat up to 100 patients.
- More than 3,000 physicians have submitted their intention to treat up to 100 patients per provider.
- In 2008 over 3.5 million prescriptions were dispensed for buprenorphine, compared to 2.12 million in 2007.