Published in the February 2007 Virginia Board of Pharmacy Newsletter
The federal Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA) has significantly changed how physicians may treat opioid addiction. Previously, physicians who wanted to maintain a patient on controlled opioid therapy for treatment of an addiction had to refer patients to specialized opioid treatment programs and were not allowed by federal law to write prescriptions for treatment of opioid addiction. However, DATA now allows qualified physicians to treat opioid addiction in office-based settings with Schedule III-V CS specifically approved by Food and Drug Administration for addiction treatment. To date, the only drug that has been approved for office-based treatment of opioid addiction is buprenorphine, commercially available as Subutex® and Suboxone® (buprenorphine/naloxone). Please be aware that any pharmacy may order and dispense buprenorphine pursuant to a prescription, and pharmacies do not need a special DEA registration to dispense buprenorphine. There are some additional requirements for prescribers who want to provide office-based treatment by using buprenorphine. Prior to prescribing buprenorphine to treat addiction, the qualified physician must first meet criteria for, and receive approval from, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Additionally, the prescriber must also apply for and receive approval from DEA. The DEA identification number issued for approval to use buprenorphine for addiction treatment will be the same number as the prescriber’s regular DEA number but will begin with the letter X instead of A, B, or F. In addition to the regular DEA number, the prescriber shall also record the “X” DEA number on any prescription written for treatment of opioid addiction.
Additional information regarding the prescribing of buprenorphine may be accessed at www.buprenorphine.samhsa.gov/. To verify a physician’s waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid addiction, please contact the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Buprenorphine Information Center at 1-866/BUP-CSAT (1-866/287-2728) or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.