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SAMHSA News - January/February 2007, Volume 15, Number 1

Buprenorphine: Patient Limits Increase

Thousands of physicians certified to prescribe the medication buprenorphine to opioid-dependent patients have been informed of new legislation that more than triples the number of patients each physician may treat.

Under the new law, signed by President George W. Bush on December 29, 2006, certified physicians across the Nation may treat up to 100 patients at any one time with buprenorphine. Currently, two buprenorphine products—Subutex® and Suboxone®—are approved for treatment of opioid dependence.

The original 30-patient limit, set by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA 2000), applied both to individual practitioners and group practices—regardless of how many doctors in the practice were certified to prescribe the drug. In August 2005, the group-practice limit was eliminated.

“The response to the new legislation has been immediate,” said H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. “But we still need new providers, especially in rural areas, to attend trainings for buprenorphine certification.” Information on buprenorphine training for physicians is available on SAMHSA’s Web site, at

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SAMHSA’s Buprenorphine Web site outlines all conditions and requirements for physicians to qualify for an increase in their
patient limit.

For example, physicians must:

  • Be currently authorized under DATA 2000.

  • Have 1 year’s experience since initial authorization (or have submitted the initial notification of intent at least 1 year ago).

  • Submit a second notification that conveys the need and intent to treat up to 100 patients. That notification should also certify the physician’s necessary qualifying criteria and the capacity to refer patients for appropriate counseling and other ancillary services.

Dr. Clark sent a letter to physicians across the Nation on January 5, 2007, informing them of the significant change in legislation and providing them with a copy of the form that should be used for the second notification of intent.

This second notification also can be submitted online by visiting SAMHSA’s Buprenorphine Web site and following the instructions on the home page.

“This new legislation will help to expand access to much needed treatment. But we should be careful to assess both the quality and geographic distribution of services that are provided,” said David A. Fiellin, M.D., an associate professor at the Yale University School of Medicine and Medical Director of the SAMHSA-funded Physician Clinical Support System, a national network of mentors who assist other physicians in the use of buprenorphine.

Additional SAMHSA News articles on buprenorphine are featured online at

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SAMHSA's Treatment Locator

SAMHSA’s Buprenorphine Physician and Treatment Program Locator provides information on physicians and treatment programs around the Nation authorized to treat opioid dependence with the medication buprenorphine.

The Web site, offered as a service of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), is an online resource designed to assist states, medical and addiction treatment communities, and potential patients and their families in finding buprenorphine treatment information.

The Locator provides contact information for state substance abuse agencies and also includes answers to frequently asked questions about buprenorphine treatment and treatment programs.

In addition, it now has the capacity to list multiple addresses for physicians who have more than one practice location.

The Buprenorphine Physician and Treatment Program Locator is available online at

For more information, call CSAT’s Buprenorphine Information Center at 1 (866) 287-2728.

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