The Trump Appointee Who’s an Addiction Specialist

Dr. Elinore McCance-Kantz, who directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, helped design training for doctors who want to prescribe buprenorophine for opioid addiction.

Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, the Trump administration’s director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, helped pioneer opioid addiction treatment with buprenorphine in clinical trials in the 1990s. She also helped create the training for doctors who want to prescribe it. What follows is a condensed interview with her.

How much of your time is spent addressing the opioid epidemic?

I probably spend half of my time on it. I also, of course, spend time on serious mental illness issues, and on planning; keeping the organization running; making sure all the various components of what is a large and complicated organization are continuing and getting worked on.

What kinds of doctors are pursuing the training and certification that the federal government requires to prescribe buprenorphine?

There’s a lot of psychiatry. There are a significant number of primary care providers, but there are also specialists. There are pediatricians who get the waiver; OB-GYNS who get the waiver; pain specialists who get the waiver. And then, of course, there are addiction specialists who get the waiver — addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry.

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