The Obama administration is loosening restrictions on buprenorphine/Suboxone prescriptions [npr.org] in order to fight the "heroin epidemic", while calling on Congress to act on a request for $1.1 billion in additional funding for opioid treatment programs across the U.S.:
The Obama administration is making it easier for people addicted to opioids to get treatment. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell [hhs.gov] announced new rules [whitehouse.gov] Wednesday to loosen restrictions on doctors who treat people addicted to heroin and opioid painkillers with the medication buprenorphine. Doctors who are licensed to prescribe the drug, which is sold mostly under the brand name Suboxone [npr.org], will be allowed to treat as many as 275 patients a year. That's almost triple the current limit of 100, and HHS estimated that as many as 70,000 more people may have access to the drug as a result.
"There are a number of ways we are trying to increase access to medication-assisted treatment," said Michael Botticelli [whitehouse.gov], the director of national drug control policy, on a conference call with reporters. "This rule itself expands access and gets more physicians to reach more patients."
Suboxone is itself an opioid. It eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but doesn't make people high. [...] Botticelli said an average 129 people a day die from opioid overdoses.
Previously: White House Announces Heroin Response Strategy for the US Northeast [soylentnews.org]
Alarming Rise in Death Rates for Middle-Aged White Americans [soylentnews.org]
Kroger Supermarkets to Carry Naloxone Without a Prescription [soylentnews.org]
4/20: Half-Baked Headline [soylentnews.org]