Negotiations for wider availability of suboxone in ‘advanced stages’

David Lynch | 26 Apr 2018 | 0 Comment(s)

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There were 115 people receiving suboxone within the public health system at the end of February, according to figures provided to this newspaper by the HSE.

This is a slight increase on the 109 people who were in receipt of suboxone at the end of December.

Suboxone is an alternative substitution treatment for opioid drug dependence and the HSE told the Medical Independent (MI) that it is currently available in 15 different clinics in the country and from “five level 2 GPs”.

However, the Executive spokesperson told MI that it is in the “advanced stages” of negotiations that should allow for the much wider distribution of suboxone across the country.

“The legislation has been enacted and the HSE are in advanced stages of negotiation with the company around pricing arrangements to allow wider availability of the product in the coming months,” the spokesperson told MI.

Separately, the HSE told MI that there were 9,717 people in receipt of methadone through the public health services at the end of February. This figure was up from 9,664 at the end of January, and 9,695 at the end of December 2017.

Currently, the majority of suboxone patients are receiving treatment in Dublin in over a dozen different clinics. In 2015, the Opioid Substitution Implementation Group recommended a phased increased access to buprenorphine [suboxone] products, subject to legislation being introduced and funding being made available.

Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne told the Dáil last October that “an additional €750,000 has been allocated to the HSE to facilitate the phased increase in the use of suboxone”.

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