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Increase in patients on Suboxone in final months of last year

There was a steady increase in the number of patients being administered buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) in the final months of last year, according to figures provided by the HSE to this newspaper.

A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that 407 patients
were in receipt of Suboxone in November, compared to 390 in October and 376 in September.

These figures are in line with the steady increase in patients receiving Suboxone during the early period of the pandemic. At the end of May the figure was 340, compared with 262 in February. Suboxone, the brand name for buprenorphine/naloxone, is an alternative substitution treatment for opioid drug dependence.

New regulations were introduced in November 2017 to provide access to certain buprenorphine-based medicinal products (such as Suboxone) in the opioid substitution treatment system on the same statutory basis as methadone.

A survey of measures introduced by the HSE during the early period of the pandemic took place last year.

“The HSE National Social Inclusion Office undertook a survey of the measures put in place in HSE addiction services during March and April in response to the initial outbreak of Covid-19,” the HSE’s spokesperson told MI.

“The results of this survey were to inform future service and resource planning for HSE addiction services. It is not intended to publish the results of the survey in a formal manner.”

At the end of November, 10,974 patients were receiving methadone, according to the HSE spokesperson. In January 2020, the figure was 10,233.

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