As opioid overdose deaths rise across America, a number of addiction specialists are asking an important question.
Why are so few physicians prescribing buprenorphine (or Bupe) —an opioid-based drug shown to be helpful in the treatment of addiction?
The question is a good one.
Some experts suggest more physicians need to be licensed to prescribe the drug.
Others suggest that the licensing requirement should be removed altogether. Afterall – no special licensing is required to prescribe the opioids that lie at the root of the opioid addiction epidemic.
According to Beth Connolly, the project director of Pew's substance use prevention and treatment initiative, "(Bupe) can be prescribed for pain without any of these regulatory requirements. When prescribing it for opioid use disorder, it's layered with all these barriers. There's a stigma around the medication."
Jeanmarie Perrone, Director of the Division of Medical Toxicology and Addiction Medicine Initiatives in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Emergency Medicine, has a different take on the problem. "The problem isn't necessarily that individual doctors aren't prescribing to as many patients as possible—it's that so few doctors can prescribe buprenorphine at all."
Could there be other reasons so few physicians are licensed to prescribe Bupe??
Some observers believe there is one in particular… the stigma in medicine attached to addiction treatment in general.
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