The number of patients being administered buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) reached 656 at the end of May, continuing the upward trend since 2017. In February, there were 606 patients in receipt of Suboxone.
These figures are “based on data supplied from the central treatment list and exclusive of prisons”, according to a HSE spokesperson.
The number of people in receipt of Suboxone at the end of April 2021 was 492; however, this figure included patients in prison.
Regulations were introduced in November 2017 to provide access to certain buprenorphine-based medicinal products in the opioid substitution treatment system on the same statutory basis as methadone. The Suboxone programme had not been impacted by the pandemic, stated the HSE in 2021.
At the end of May this year, there were 15 level 1 GPs prescribing Suboxone and 41 level 2 GPs. A level 1 GP prescriber can treat stabilised opiate-dependent patients in their own practice, while a level 2 GP can provide a comprehensive assessment, initiation of treatment where appropriate, stabilisation maintenance of treatment, and/or detox of opioid-dependent patients.
Some 10,138 patients were in receipt of methadone at the end of May. There are 749 community pharmacies involved in the methadone protocol scheme, while there are 288 community pharmacies participating in the Suboxone scheme.