Abrupt policy shift removed a unique barrier to prescribing buprenorphine, but didn’t lead to a sharp rise in prescribing by the end of the first year. For years, even as opioid overdose deaths dramatically increased, doctors and other prescribers in the United States needed special permission from the federal government if they wanted to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication that helps patients overcome opioid addiction and prevents fatal overdoses. That requirement, called an “X waiver”, was eliminated on January 12, 2023 due to an item in a major federal budget bill. This meant that suddenly, any clinician who had a license to prescribe controlled substances could prescribe buprenorphine. Now, a new study by University of Michigan researchers looks at what happened in the year after that federal policy change. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study finds that the number of buprenorphine prescribers increased rapidly after the policy change. By December 2023, more than 53,600 clinicians prescribed buprenorphine, an increase of 11,500 over December 2022.