HHS Reverses DATA-Waiver Exemption for Physicians

January 29, 2021


On Jan. 27, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) posted a statement cancelling plans announced earlier this month by the Trump administration to exempt many physicians from certain certification requirements under 21 U.S.C. § 823(g)(2) of the Controlled Substances Act to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.

“Unfortunately, the announcement was made prematurely,” the SAMHSA statement noted. “Therefore, the Guidelines previously announced cannot be issued at this time. However, HHS and ONDCP are committed to working with interagency partners to examine ways to increase access to buprenorphine, reduce overdose rates and save lives.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) originally published Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder on Jan. 14, eliminating DATA-waiver obligations under most circumstances for physicians, but not other qualifying waivered practitioners. IHA summarized the now-defunct guidelines, which may have removed barriers to accessing medication-assisted treatment for patients with OUD.

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