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According to figures provided to the Medical Independent (MI) by the HSE, during August this year 107 patients were receiving the alternative substitution treatment for opioid drug dependence.
The HSE spokesperson also told MI that “legislation is very close to being enacted” that will allow the wider provision of suboxone.
The majority of the 107 suboxone patients are receiving treatment in Dublin across over a dozen different clinics and four ‘level two’ GPs, said the spokesperson.
“In 2015, the Opioid Substitution Implementation Group recommended a phased increased access to buprenorphine/naloxone and buprenorphine [suboxone] products, subject to legislation being introduced and funding being made available.
“The funding has been made available and the legislation is very close to being enacted, therefore the HSE is progressing the necessary steps to allow these products to be introduced more widely in the Irish market,” the HSE spokesperson told MI.
Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne told the Dáil in February that “if the provision of suboxone is to be given the same statutory basis as methadone, in order to ensure its safe, appropriate and cost-effective use, an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs (Supervision of Prescription and Supply of Methadone) Regulations 1998 will be necessary.”
There are currently 10,248 people in receipt of methadone through public health services, as revealed by MI last month.