11/22/2014, Experts say abuse of addiction drug suboxone has dangerous consequences


Oversight is in the hands of physicians. However, the number of doctors who dispense the medication is not known — and there are no licensing procedures that would allow state agencies to regulate them. “There isn’t a license or registration in place to regulate doctors or small groups of doctors who distribute that prescription — namely suboxone,” said Bill Schmidt, an attorney with the State Medical Board of Ohio’s investigative counsel.

The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration database lists 649 Ohio doctors who dispense the drug and who are in compliance with the Federal Drug Abuse Treatment Act of 2000. Those listed in the database voluntarily make their names public — and an unknown amount do not, according to Eric R. Wandersleben, director of media relations and outreach at the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services…

The reality is that medication-assisted treatment isn’t very effective without therapy,” Hall said. “And therapy isn’t really effective without medication.”

But not all suboxone providers agree with that statement. While Dr. Nicholas Atanasoff recommends some form of therapy to his patients, he doesn’t believe that mandating it would be helpful because it could restrict much-needed access to medication…

He added that there is no clinical evidence that mandated therapy alters outcomes. He also said mandated therapy can make it difficult for people to obtain jobs and support their families. “What if they don’t go? Do you withhold the lifesaving treatment from them?” he asked. “It’s a counterintuitive situation that doesn’t exist in medicine anywhere else.”

Is the treatment of chronic pain as “life-saving” as the treatment of addiction?

The Ohio Department of Health reported that accidental drug overdoses increased 366 percent from 2000 to 2012, with opiate abuse leading by 72 percent. The state health department also reported that the number of people diagnosed with opiate dependence has risen from 5,790 in 2001 to 24,833 in 2012….

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