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A Call for Medical Schools to Teach Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Shapiro, Aaron M. MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002976
Letters to the Editor

First-year resident in primary care social internal medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York;; ORCID:

Disclosures: None reported.

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To the Editor:

In response to the numerous articles written on medical training to treat opioid use disorder (OUD), I feel insufficient attention has been given to the recently passed SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.1 This act provides a new avenue for doctors to receive their DATA (Drug Addiction Treatment Act) waiver, allowing them to prescribe buprenorphine to treat OUD. Doctors can now obtain their waiver if they graduated in good standing from an American medical school that provides the requisite training as a standard part of the curriculum. As a recent graduate of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, a school that provides such training, I enjoyed discussing this advancement during my recent residency interviews. However, I found that many practitioners were unaware of this new opportunity to significantly increase the buprenorphine-prescribing workforce.

Although I was inspired to find many residency programs coordinating DATA waiver trainings for their residents, I hope that more medical schools learn about this new provision and prioritize OUD treatment training as a standard part of medical school curricula. Ideally, all American medical school graduates will soon arrive to residency eligible to prescribe buprenorphine, making postgraduate waiver coordination obsolete. I further hope that the need for the DATA waiver will be eliminated entirely. The waiver was initially intended to expand medication-assisted treatment of OUD, but it has proven to be a harmful barrier to care—unprecedented in all other areas of medical prescribing. No barriers should exist to treating those in need.

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1. 115th Congress. H.R.6 SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, Section 3202. Revised October 24, 2018. Accessed August 22, 2019.
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