A recent article tells the story of Carla, a 26 year old who started abusing marijuana, meth, and later moved on to prescription painkillers and heroin. She tried a methadone clinic to help kick her addiction, but to no avail. Later, she went to Dr. William Yarborough, an internal medicine specialist at the Univ of Oklahoma-Tulsa, who prescribed her buprenorphine. Since then, Carla has been clean and her quality of life has improved.
The article mentions that physicians may treat only as many as 100 patients at a time with buprenorphine according to the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Dr. Yarborough has a very long waiting list of patients and just doesn't have enough spaces left to help people. Hence, he would like the regulations regarding buprenorphine prescribing limits altered. He adds that his patients who are treated with buprenorphine aren't the stereotypical addicts. He mentions "Most of my patients either go to school or they're working or taking care of their children. It's not the typical addict you think of. It's middle class and upper class". (Source: Doctor laments federal restrictions on drug treatment for addiction from Tulsa World)
A Closer Look at the 30/100 Patient Limit: Legal guidelines allow locations other than private practices to dispense buprenorphine. For instance, any opioid treatment program with a license to prescribe methadone can treat patients with buprenorphine, and there is no patient limit. Note that this differs from office-based treatment, in which each individual physician or group provider may treat only 30 patients with buprenorphine (including both detoxification and maintenance) at a time during the first year that the physician is certified, and up to 100 patients during each subsequent year. However, physicians who want to treat more than 30 patients after their first year must submit a second notification form to the DEA. For physicians in group practices, the patient limits apply to individual practitioners, not the group. For example, a group practice with 4 qualified physicians could treat 120 total patients (30 patients per physician) during the first year that the physicians are certified, and a total of 400 in each year thereafter. Get informed about the 30/100 Patient Limit on NAABT.org: http://www.naabt.org/30_patient_limit.cfm.