Introduced in 2003, the drug known as “bupe” has been subject to increasing misuse and illegal sales as more of it is prescribed by physicians, The Sun reported in a series of articles beginning in December. Some patients sell it on the street; buyers use it to get high or hold off withdrawal symptoms until they can get their next heroin or painkiller hit.
The biggest problem, according to Schuster, is that some doctors are prescribing 30-day supplies of the pills to addicts after only a single visit. While that’s legal, Schuster said, doctors should become comfortable that a patient is not abusing the drug before prescribing large amounts.
‘A small minority of doctors are not practicing good medicine,’ he said. ‘That’s a problem we need to be concerned with.’
Experts and officials identified other problems, including doctors who provide little counseling. An official with the NIDA said studies are showing that buprenorphine works better with pain-pill addicts, not heroin abusers.