Adoption of the 275-patient buprenorphine treatment waiver for treating opioid use disorder: A state-level longitudinal analysis

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15 Scopus citations


Background: Increasing access to buprenorphine treatment is a critical tool for addressing the opioid epidemic in the United States. In 2016, a federal policy change allowed physicians who meet specific requirements to treat up to 275 concurrent buprenorphine patients. This study examines state-level measures of buprenorphine treatment supply over 21 months since this policy change and estimates associations between the supply of 275-patient waivers and state characteristics. Methods: Monthly state-level measures of the number of physicians holding the 275-patient waiver per 100,000 residents were constructed from September 2016 to May 2018 using the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Controlled Substance Act database. State characteristics were obtained from publicly available sources. Mixed-effects regression models were estimated to examine change over time. Results: During the 21-month period, the number of physicians waivered to treat 275 patients increased from 153 to 4009 physicians. The mean supply of 275-patient physicians per 100,000 state residents significantly increased from 0.07 (SD = 0.21) in September 2016 to 1.43 (SD = 1.08) in May 2018 (t = −9.84, df = 50, P <.001). The final mixed-effects regression model indicated that Census division and the preexisting supply of 100-patient waivered physicians were correlated with the rate of growth in 275-patient waivers over the study period. Conclusions: Although uptake of the 275-patient waiver has exceeded initial projections, growth is uneven across the United States. Unequal patterns of growth pose a challenge to efforts to increase treatment availability as a means of addressing the opioid epidemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-268
Number of pages10
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Buprenorphine
  • DATA 2000
  • opioid use disorder treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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