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Buprenorphine provider gap in Midwest and Mid-Atlantic

The number of approved providers of buprenorphine per opioid overdose death is lower than average in 11 states in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, according to an analysis by the health policy consulting group Avalere. Buprenorphine is used to treat opiate use disorder, and may be prescribed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants who have undergone training from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Avalere compared the number of approved buprenorphine providers to the number of opioid overdose deaths. According to the analysis, which the company posted on its website, the nationwide average is 0.67 providers per death. Eleven states (IA, IL, MD, MI, MO, NC, NH, OH, VA, WI, and WV) and the District of Columbia “have significantly lower-than-average rates of providers who prescribe buprenorphine compared to opioid overdose deaths.” At 0.31 provider per death, Missouri had the lowest provider/death ratio, with Illinois close behind at 0.33. California had the highest at 1.31, with Nebraska second at 1.27.

According to Clara Soh, a director at Avalere, “Evaluating ways to narrow this gap, including bringing state scope-of-practice laws into alignment with federal regulations, would enable policymakers to achieve their goal to expand access.”