More Than Ten Percent of Buprenorphine Doctors Sanctioned

govbupeguideA fascinating article has appeared in the New York Times that delves into the benefits and the risks of buprenorphine, as well as the history of the drug.

Although some experts have been debating back and forth about the drug’s uses for treating addiction, it has certainly become a popular drug, now generating more than $1.5 billion in annual sales in the United States alone. The transition into commercial use occurred as the result of former officials being hired into the private sector at Reckitt Benckiser, lobbying for money for development and clinical trails, and then securing a seven-year patent against competition for their drugs Suboxone and Subutex.

Only recently has a generic version been approved for the public by the FDA, and even that was vigorously fought by Reckitt Benckiser. This has been one of the biggest problems for the pharmaceutical industry – where is the line crossed between seeking what’s best for the people rather than just what’s best for the company profits?

For the ever-growing number of buprenorphine users who praise the drug, having a cheaper generic version is incredibly helpful. It will also save taxpayers potentially hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing the amount paid out for the prescriptions through Medicaid coverage.

There is another side to the drug than just the benefits and profits, though, and that is the fact that any opioid still has abuse potential. With increased availability has also come increased overdose and dependency statistics as well. The appearance of the drug on the black market isn’t only the result of users, but also a fairly high portion of the doctors.

According to the Times article, there are less than 13,000 doctors in the U.S. who can prescribe buprenorphine, yet more than 1,300 of them have been sanctioned for offenses that include things such as fraud, misconduct, practicing while impaired and excessive narcotics prescribing. At a rate of more than 10 percent, this is somewhat shocking among a profession that is supposed to be held to very high standards.

Is this the result of money and power corrupting an elite group, or is it more of an indication of how powerful the drug really is in terms of its abuse potential? Some advocates for the drug still believe that it should primarily be used as a short-term opiate withdrawal aid, as when it shifted into a long-term maintenance drug it seemingly became more popular illicitly as well.

If you have a friend or family member struggling with addiction to any opiate, contact us today for information on successful intervention and treatment options.

Mike Loverde

As a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), member of NAATP, NAADAC, and accredited by the Pennsylvania Certification Board, Mike Loverde knows first-hand what it’s like to live life with addiction. By overcoming it, he had a calling to work with others who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions—the people who use and the families who feel helpless watching them decay.

With thousands of interventions across the United States done and many more to come, Loverde continues to own the intervention space, since 2005, by working with medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and others who need expert assistance for their patients who need intervention. To further his impact on behavioral health and maximize intervention effectiveness, Loverde is near completion of a Masters in Addiction Studies (MHS) accreditation, as well as a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC), and is committed to attaining the designation of a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

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