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Physician Extenders to Rx Bupe
Although many physicians may protest, I believe SAMHSA’s announcement that, starting in 2017, it will enable PAs and NPs to prescribe buprenorphine for addiction bodes well for opiate addicts unable to find or afford this life saving maintenance drug.
The irrational restrictions on prescribing buprenorphine arise from archaic moralistic dogma that we “should” control addiction by limiting access to drugs. These restrictions have predictably led to price gouging by physicians and a black market -- and countless preventable deaths.
We should not stop with physician assistants and nurse practitioners. To save even more lives we should allow pharmacists to dispense buprenorphine/naloxone to competent adults even without a prescription. Although wider availability may lead to increase in the price of the drug the overall cost of obtaining it will likely drop, increasing the incentive for the afflicted to choose bupe over heroin or -codones from the street.