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Nurse practitioners’ inability to prescribe buprenorphine: Limitations of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000

Authors

  • Alane B. O’Connor DNP, FNP (Faculty, Adjunct Instructor)

    1. Maine Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency, Fairfield, Maine, and Community and Family Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire
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Alane B. O’Connor, DNP, FNP,
Maine Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency, 4 Sheridan Drive, Fairfield, ME 04937. Tel: 207-453-3030; Fax: 207-453-3003;
E-mail: aoconnor@mainegeneral.org

Abstract

Purpose: To identify the limitations of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA 2000) and to discuss the merits of one possible solution: granting nurse practitioners (NPs) the authority to prescribe buprenorphine.

Data sources: The DATA 2000 and related literature.

Conclusions: Abuse of prescription opioid medications is a significant economic and public health burden. Buprenorphine is a highly effective medication that is used in the outpatient treatment of opioid-dependent patients. However, the DATA 2000 permits only physicians to prescribe this medication, substantially reducing patient access to potentially life-sustaining treatment.

Implications for practice: Like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, addiction is a chronic condition that can be treated with lifestyle modifications, patient education, and appropriate medication. NPs are highly effective caregivers to patients with chronic disease. Granting NPs prescriptive authority for buprenorphine will improve access to treatment and patient outcomes. It will also enhance NP autonomy and authority, especially in states in which NPs practice independently.

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