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Tonko Lauds White House Action Expanding Access to Opioid Treatment, Urges Congress to Finish the Job

Tonko previously introduced bill to increase access to life saving treatment, allow physicians to treat more patients

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Washington, July 6, 2016 | Sean Magers (202-225-5076) | comments

Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) today praised a move by the White House to raise the limit of patients whom physicians can treat with buprenorphine, a drug used to treat those struggling with opioid addiction, from 100 to 275. Bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Tonko and Rep. Larry Buschon (R-IN) passed the House in May, which would have increased this patient cap from 100 to 250.

“The Obama Administration, specifically through the Department of Health and Human Services, has signaled a commitment to help those struggling with addiction, and this rule will almost triple the number of patients – and families -- who will begin to recover from the darkest days of their lives.

“We have seen addiction affect all of our lives, whether personally or through family or friends. I have personally met with people whose recovery was delayed months – sometimes years – because of the 100-patient cap on buprenorphine treatment. I am glad to see we are changing that.

“Now it’s Congress’s turn to finish the job. While there has been good bipartisan work done thus far to craft a comprehensive opioid package, which includes the expansion of buprenorphine prescribing authority to Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants originally contained in my bill, Republicans refuse to put their money where their mouth is and provide the resources necessary to provide real hope for our communities,” said Tonko.

This year, Tonko hosted White House Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli at an opioid forum in Albany. Also in May, he visited St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center (SPARC) where he spoke with patients and physicians who experienced success with treatment with buprenorphine, and struggled with the federal cap that forced doctors to turn patients away and delay their recovery.

Tonko is the Vice Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus.

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