The Biden administration has removed a directive from the Trump administration, known as the X Waiver. The waiver would have allowed a more considerable amount of doctors to prescribe and oversee Medication-Assisted Treatment. Doctors and addiction professionals have expressed dismay and disappointment at the decision, which allowed a quicker way to get relapse-prevention drugs like Naloxone to patients who have overdosed or risk overdose due to opioid use disorder.
A Premature Directive
In mid-January, the directive supporters were happy to hear that Biden had no immediate plans to overhaul the measure, which was one of the few actions taken by the Trump administration against opioid use disorder.
The X-Waiver made hastily toward the end of Trump’s term would have made it easy for emergency room physicians and other frontline doctors to prescribe MAT. In the past, specialists had to apply for a license and were monitored closely. Many doctors felt the scrutiny outweighed the benefits of prescribing the medications. Patients, of course, were the losers. There is a shortage of qualified doctors prescribing relapse-preventing medications.
“On January 14, 2021, HHS announced forthcoming Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder,” the White House’s drug policy office told the Washington Post. “Unfortunately, the announcement was made prematurely. Therefore, the Guidelines previously announced cannot be issued at this time.”
More Help to Come for Addiction
Most of the Biden policies that repeal Trump policies replace them with a new order. The removal of the X-waiver will likely be one of those policies. During the Trump administration, there was a plan to declare the opioid epidemic as a national disaster, but all public health measures fell short of offering substantial assistance or relief.
“The Biden-Harris administration absolutely supports broader access to medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder, and is working to find ways to lift burdensome restrictions on medications for opioid use disorder treatment,” said a spokesperson for the White House’s drug policy office.
A bipartisan coalition has supported the end of the 20-year-old restrictions on medication prescribing and has urged the Biden administration to reconsider.