Biden Improves Access To Buprenorphine

Biden Improves Access To Buprenorphine

President Biden breaks barriers improving access to buprenorphine for opioid addiction. The State of the Union address highlighted many points; yet, the annoucement did not go unnoticed. 

“This is a major step forward in the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing work to ensure universal access to medication for substance use disorder by 2025,” says Dr. Gupta. As Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), he testifies for how Biden can save lives.   


Buprenorphine is an opioid used to reduce or help people quit their treatment. It was a law for two decades that required doctors not to prescribe to patients. There was an exception with this law — an “x-waiver” was given to providers who had a sophisticated level of experience. The waiver did passed through training sometimes, which subject audits to the Drug Enforcement Administration. This created a limit to the number of patients that could prescribe buprenorphine for worst-case scenarios. Jennifer Sharpe Potter, vice president for research at UT Health San Antonio, became a strong advocate of getting rid of the waiver. Early 2022 tweets and published journals informed of how the removal could help the crisis.

Better Direction

Urgent circumstances increased Biden to make policy changes swiftly in his term. He has kept his eye on the matter emphatically since serving Vice President under Obama. 

In addition, the opioid epidemic has climbed to more than 100,000 deaths each year since 2009. Drug control has made strides in ending the opioid epidemic, including direct funding towards prevention, treatment, and recovery. Efforts never sufficed to a reversal of deaths.

“The removal of the waiver requirement to prescribe buprenorphine and lifting of the limits of people prescribers can work with significant steps toward expanding access to medication,” says Dr. Delphin-Rittmon, who is assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in the U.S Department of Health.

The law is a step forward in a better direction. More Americans can expect Gold standard treatment now. More work will continue toward the elimination of waiver and treatment among people of color. Even for patients in rural areas as well. 

Featured Image by Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

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