Friday, April 08, 2005
The Uphill Trek Facing Buprenorphine
Yesterday we looked at the use of naltrexone in the treatment of alcohol addiction; today's link is to a Wired story on the use of buprenorphine to combat opiate addiction. The article details the many barriers to making buprenorphine available to addicts, including the reluctance of doctors to welcome addicts into their waiting rooms and difficulties in first allowing and then easing the dispensing of buprenorphine from methadone clinics.
Relative to methadone, buprenorphine offers advantages to some patients, including the fact that a stock of bupe (its nickname) can be kept by the addict, with a pill taken daily to reduce opiate craving and withdrawal. Patient-managed inventories are possible because one form of bupe comes mixed with the opioid antagonist naloxone, thereby making it unattractive as a recreational drug. (The Wired article might even be a little too laudatory of bupe; opioids tend to have widely varying effects upon different users, so no doubt methadone or heroin maintenance would be preferable to bupe for some patients.)
Thanks to Ken Lammers at Crim Law for the pointer.