TUESDAY, Jan. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) — From 2007 to 2017, there was an increase in the prevalence of buprenorphine-waivered prescribers in the United States, according to a research letter published online Jan. 7 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ryan K. McBain, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the RAND Corporation in Boston, and colleagues obtained information on all waivered prescribers to examine county-level growth in the number of buprenorphine prescribers between 2007 and 2017.

The researchers found that the number of waivered prescribers increased from 2007 to 2017, from 3.80 to 17.29 per 100,000 persons. In 2017, 94.6, 4.2, and 1.2 percent of waivered prescribers were physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, respectively; 71.9, 21.9, and 6.2 percent had waivers for 30, 100, and 275 patients, respectively. From 2007 to 2017, the growth in waivered prescribers per 100,000 persons was faster in counties with a higher rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in the preceding year and in metropolitan and large nonmetropolitan counties versus small and medium nonmetropolitan counties. In counties with a larger percentage of college graduates and more physicians per capita, more waivered prescribers practiced per 100,000 persons during the full period (2007 to 2017).

“Given the importance of access to effective medication treatment in responding to the opioid crisis, that growth has been most rapid in communities substantially affected by the crisis is reassuring,” the authors write.

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