Doctors will have an easier time treating heroin addicts thanks to the TREAT Act that was approved by a Senate Committee in March.
The TREAT Act is a bipartisan amendment pushed by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Edward Markey that increases access to buprenorphine for treating heroin and other opioid addicts.
Rand Paul welcomed the decision by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee saying:
“I am encouraged by the HELP Committee’s passage of the TREAT Act. All across Kentucky, I have heard time and time again from families and medical professionals how the federal government’s arbitrary patient caps are blocking access to effective and proven treatments for those who want help, and ultimately, harming both the addicted person and their loved ones. The TREAT Act will remove a roadblock to getting people the help they need to break the cycle of addiction and get on a path to recovery.”
The TREAT Act allows doctors to treat more patients by increasing their patient cap from 100 to 500. There is a limitation for the first year of prescribing the medication, but that cap has been lifted as well from 30 to 100 patients.
In order to be eligible for treating up to 500 patients with buprenorphine, the physician must either be a substance abuse treatment specialist or a non-specialist physician who has completed 24 hours of approved training. They must also provide the patient with counseling.
Additionally, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners can now also prescribe buprenorphine, but their cap is 100 patients. They are also required to complete 24 hour training on treating opioid addictions.
According to health experts, buprenorphine, which is commonly sold as Suboxone, offers opioid addicts who are seeking treatment one of the best chances at recovery, especially when it is combined with counseling.
In a press release, Sen. Markey said:
“We need to remove the barriers to effective treatment for opioid addiction, including outdated federal restrictions on medication-assisted therapies like buprenorphine. This treatment decreases overdose deaths, reduces transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C and saves lives.” (Huffington Post)
What are your thoughts on the TREAT Act? Will lifting the cap on prescribing buprenorphine help provide much needed assistance to opioid addicts? Tell us what you think in the comments below and don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.
(Photo courtesy of kphotographer, Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0)
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