New DEA ruling aimed at increasing addiction treatment

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently announced a measure that will make it easier for residents in rural or underserved areas to receive treatment for drug addiction. Among other professionals, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can now become Drug Abuse Treatment Act (DATA)-waived practitioners, granting them the authority to prescribe and dispense buprenorphine.

More precisely, section 303 of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) defines “qualifying other practitioner” as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant who satisfies each of the following criteria:

  1. The nurse practitioner or physician assistant is licensed under state law to prescribe schedule III, IV or V medications for the treatment of pain;
  2. The nurse practitioner or physician assistant must complete not fewer than 24 hours of initial training; and
  3. The nurse practitioner or physician assistant is supervised by, or works in collaboration with, a qualifying physician, if the nurse practitioner or physician assistant is required by state law to prescribe medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder in collaboration with or under the supervision of a physician.

The secretary determines, in collaboration with a qualifying physician, if the nurse practitioner or physician assistant can treat and manage opiate-dependent patients. The secretary may, by regulation, revise the requirements for being qualified.