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Legislation needed following formal HSE suboxone recommendation

The HSE’s intention to make this recommendation was widely predicted in the media at the end of last year, including in the Medical Independent (MI) (9 December 2015).

However, a Department of Health spokesperson told MI last week that legislation is still needed before provision of the alternatives to methadone can begin. Legislation is expected in the coming months.

“The HSE has set up an implementation group to oversee the provision of suboxone and subutex under the same regulatory framework as applies to methadone,” said a Department spokesperson.

“The group reported to the Minister [for Health] in early 2016,  recommending the phased introduction of suboxone and subutex, subject to the required resources being allocated and legislation being in place.  

“If the provision of these products is to be given the same statutory basis as methadone, the Misuse of Drugs legislation will need to be amended to account for this. 

“It is anticipated that this amending legislation will be published in the coming months, with the intention of having it enacted later this year.  Any regulations made in relation to suboxone will be drafted subsequent to this legislative agenda.”

In December last year, a HSE spokesperson told MI that suboxone is estimated at an additional drug cost of €2,186 per person per year within HSE addiction centres, based on a daily average of 80ml methadone/16mg suboxone.

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