As the government shutdown drags in to its second month,1 a new healthcare concern has cropped up: physicians looking to prescribe buprenorphine for the management of opioid use disorder are being hampered by a lack of access to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).2

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,3 physicians who prescribe buprenorphine require a special certification and additional hours of training, as well as a DEA waiver to prescribe the medication to more than 100 patients. With the DEA shut down, certifications and waivers are not being processed.

In a statement, New York Senator Chuck Schumer spoke out against the shutdown and the negative effect it was having not only on his constituents but also on those seeking treatment across the country:2

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“Simply put, the DEA, in many ways, holds the keys to accessing critical anti-opioid treatment drugs that New York City and Long Island patients and doctors need to combat this deadly scourge.” He added, “[W]e need them fully open and running to put those keys back into the hands of the New York doctors who save lives and the patients who are fighting to get better.”

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The current government shutdown is the longest in US history. It remains unclear when the shutdown may end.


  1. Haag M, Chokshi N. Government shutdown: updates on where things stand. New York Times. January 21, 2019. Accessed January 22, 2019.
  2.  Tracy T, Elizalde E, Blau R. Shutdown exacerbates opioid crisis as doctors blocked from prescribing key medication. New York Daily News. January 13, 2019. Accessed January 22, 2019.
  3. Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. Buprenorphine waiver management. Accessed January 22, 2019