Suboxone is a medication — containing buprenorphine and naloxone — FDA-approved for opioid use disorder (OUD). According to Harvard Health, using treatments like Suboxone for OUD can reduce the risk of fatal overdoses by as much as 50 percent.
Unfortunately, past Suboxone prescribing regulations were very strict, with up to 64% of physicians unable to prescribe Suboxone. This meant individuals who needed the drug could not get it. Addiction treatment advocates are looking to address this problem with new Suboxone laws in 2021.
This article will discuss the new suboxone laws and what they mean for you. Read on to learn more.
Is Suboxone Regulated?
Yes, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) regulate Suboxone. Also, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) oversees all Suboxone prescribers.
What DEA Schedule (Category) Does Suboxone Fall Under?
The DEA categorizes drugs into “schedules” based on their potential for dependence. These can range from I to V. Schedule III substances have a lower misuse potential than Schedule II substances but a higher abuse potential when compared to Schedule IV substances.
Suboxone, like all buprenorphine-containing medications, is a Schedule III substance. In other words, it has a low to moderate potential for dependence.
Previous Prescribing Laws in the United States
Before April 2021, prescribing laws only allowed qualified providers to prescribe Suboxone if:
- They had completed eight hours of training and
- Obtained a waiver from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The laws also capped the number of OUD patients a qualified professional could treat to 30 during the first year. The guidelines also required providers to refer every patient with OUD for counseling before prescribing medications.
What Are the New Suboxone Laws 2022?
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced new prescribing guidelines in spring 2021 to adjust the Suboxone certification requirements. These differ from the old laws in two main ways:
1. Waiver For Federal Training
The Biden administration has amended buprenorphine prescribing laws to exempt qualified prescribers from federal training. This means prescribers no longer need to complete 8 hours of training.
However, providers still need to get waivers before prescribing buprenorphine products. They can obtain these by submitting notices of intent to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). The first-year patient cap of 30 also remains in place.
2. No Counseling Requirements
Suboxone providers are now exempt from having to refer patients to counseling services before prescribing the medication.