Tag Archives: Maine

Addiction Treatment With a Dark Side

money-pillsThe NY Times has a new piece on Suboxone.

First, on its blockbuster status:

Suboxone is the blockbuster drug most people have never heard of. Surpassing well-known medications like Viagra and Adderall, it generated $1.55 billion in United States sales last year, its success fueled by an exploding opioid abuse epidemic and the embrace of federal officials who helped finance its development and promoted it as a safer, less stigmatized alternative to methadone.

But more than a decade after Suboxone went on the market, and with the Affordable Care Act poised to bring many more addicts into treatment, the high hopes have been tempered by a messy reality. Buprenorphine has become both medication and dope . . .

Next, on the dark side of the business:

Many buprenorphine doctors are addiction experts capable, they say, of treating far more than the federal limit of 100 patients. But because of that limit, an unmet demand for treatment has created a commercial opportunity for prescribers, attracting some with histories of overprescribing the very pain pills that made their patients into addicts.

A relatively high proportion of buprenorphine doctors have troubled records, a Times examination of the federal “buprenorphine physician locator” found. In West Virginia, one hub of the opioid epidemic, the doctors listed are five times as likely to have been disciplined as doctors in general; in Maine, another center, they are 14 times as likely.

Nationally, at least 1,350 of 12,780 buprenorphine doctors have been sanctioned for offenses that include excessive narcotics prescribing, insurance fraud, sexual misconduct and practicing medicine while impaired. Some have been suspended or arrested, leaving patients in the lurch.

Statistics released in the last year show sharp increases in buprenorphine seizures by law enforcement, in reports to poison centers, in emergency room visits for the nonmedical use of the drug and in pediatric hospitalizations for accidental ingestions as small as a lick.

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Filed under Controversies, Policy, Treatment

Venture capital and methadone

postcard---heroin-lie

There must be a lot of money available if private equity firms are willing to expose themselves to this much risk:

At least five state legislatures are considering bills to tighten oversight of methadone clinics after allegations that take-home doses of the drug are contributing to illegal street sales, misuse and deaths.

Measures in West Virginia, Minnesota, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Maine, if passed, could increase costs or limit revenue for the nation’s largest methadone chains — both of them backed by private equity firms: CRC Health Corp. is owned by Boston-based Bain Capital Partners LLC; and Colonial Management Group LP is in the portfolio of Warwick Group Inc. of New Canaan, Connecticut.

Police, prosecutors and state regulators have linked clinics operated by CRC and Colonial to doses of the synthetic narcotic that were diverted into black-market sales — sometimes with deadly results.

Police, prosecutors and state regulators have linked clinics operated by CRC and Colonial to doses of the synthetic narcotic that were diverted into black-market sales — sometimes with deadly results.

The array of legislation reflects concerns that some for- profit clinics — which distribute the synthetic narcotic to help patients beat addictions to heroin and other opiates — don’t provide enough services, said Robert Lubran, director of pharmacologic therapies at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“We know for-profit providers often provide a lower level of service” than non-profit counterparts, Lubran said.

“It’s a question across the nation: Is it a cash cow these providers are running or are they really trying to help our citizens?” said Meshea Poore, a Democratic member of West Virginia’s House of Delegates.

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Filed under Controversies, Harm Reduction, Policy, Treatment