For a while, there has been speculation about what a new White House administration may do to help combat America’s opioid addiction crisis. We’ve reported many times on the work exiting president Donald Trump has done to address the situation. But President Joe Biden comes from the opposite party and is likely to approach the situation in a very different way. In fact, The Washington Post is reporting that he’s already putting some plans in place during his first two weeks in office.
The Post article is highlighting potential swift action by the Biden administration to reverse a last minute order put forth by Donald Trump. Apparently during his final weeks in office, Trump loosened certain requirements around prescriptions for the drug buprenorphine, which has been called out as a treatment for opioid abuse. Trump’s order allowed physicians to forego certain trainings and licenses needed to prescribe the drug (all categorized as part of an “X” waiver). The bottom line is, he made buprenorphine much more accessible to patients and doctors; something Biden is now opposing.
Since it was enacted, Trump’s initiative has drawn criticism from many high ranking officials. His own previous Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Elinore McCance-Katz, opposed it. She emphasized that even though buprenorphine is classified as an opioid addiction treatment, it too can be abused and its accessibility should be limited.
“The nation’s opioid epidemic has been fueled by overprescribing opioids, and additional safeguards are important to ensure buprenorphine is not similarly overused,” McCance-Katz explained in a recent interview. “The people who made this decision don’t treat opioid use disorder.”
Other prominent spokespeople, though, have shown support for Trump’s loosening of the regulations and expressed concern that the Biden administration may overturn it.
“Buprenorphine is a simple, lifesaving medication that’s currently locked up by the X waiver,” said Kim Sue, medical director for the National Harm Reduction Coalition. “The weight of the evidence supports removing the X waiver and the weight of the evidence shows it will save lives.”
Obviously, this is just a first small step in what we expect are a lot of movements by the Biden administration to address U.S. dependencies. He had been very vocal about the opioid epidemic while on the campaign trail and highlighted the fact that his own son, Hunter Biden, battled several addictions throughout his life. We will most certainly be watching this administration closely and reporting back on all of their activities to improve America’s recovery initiatives.