Even with a license to prescribe a popular addiction treatment drug, many doctors aren’t giving it to their patients

Only about half of the physicians licensed to prescribe buprenorphine -- an opioid-based medication to treat addiction -- actually prescribe it to patients, a national study from the Pew Charitable Trust and the Deerfield Institute has found.

Buprenorphine has been marketed as more accessible than methadone, another opioid-based addiction medicine that long has been dispensed only through federally licensed treatment centers. Bupe, as many patients and practitioners call it, can be prescribed from physicians' offices and taken at home, but significant federal restrictions still surround its prescription and use.

Physicians who treat substance use in Philadelphia said the study shows the need for more doctors to be licensed to prescribe buprenorphine -- or to remove the licensing requirement altogether. After all, many argue, no such special license is needed to prescribe the painkillers that are at the root of so many addictions.

Doctors must take a special course to prescribe buprenorphine and, once they pass, may take on no more than 30 patients with opioid use disorder. (Later, they can ask to take on a larger patient load, and some doctors are permitted to prescribe buprenorphine to up to 275 patients.)

Read article from Philadelphia inquirer here