Raising the Suboxone Patient Cap

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced yesterday that the cap on buprenorphine patients would be raised in the near future.  Details were not released, but she emphasized that measures would be taken to increase availability of this life-saving treatment, while at the same time taking caution to prevent misuse of the medication.   Anyone who works with buprenorphine understands the importance of her announcement.  I only hope that her actions are swift, and not overloaded with regulations that reduce practical implementation of whatever increases are allowed.
I have been at the cap for years, unable to accept new patients for buprenorphine treatment.  My office receives 3-4 calls each day on average from people addicted to heroin, begging for help.  Patients on buprenorphine (the active substance in Suboxone) are much less likely to die from overdose than are patients not taking buprenorphine– even in the absence of perfect compliance.  Some doctors, in my opinion, over-emphasize the ‘diversion’ of buprenorphine medications.  At least in my part of the country, ‘diversion’ of buprenorphine amounts to heroin addicts trying to stop heroin, taking ‘street buprenorphine’ because of the absence of legitimate treatment spots.    Of the few new patients I’ve been able to take this year, almost all have histories of using buprenorphine products on their own, without prescriptions.  They are very happy to finally have a reliable source of the medication– and to have the medication covered by their health insurance!
Let’s hope the increase in the cap happens sooner rather than later.  After all, lives are literally hanging in the balance.

Need a Suboxone Doctor? Cap Problems? ACT!

There are ongoing efforts to eliminate the cap on treating people for opioid dependence with buprenorphine or Suboxone. I don’t know what the odds of success are, but the efforts would benefit from public demand. If you have had difficulty finding a doctor with room under the cap, write a letter or email that explains just how important the issue is to you, and send it to the address(es) below.
The change requires an Act of Congress, or perhaps an executive order from someone high-placed in the Dept of Health and Human Services. Consider sending a ‘cc’ to your elected representatives in the Senate or House of Representatives. I am not excited about using NAABT.org, since they tend to be patsies for Reckitt-Benckiser (I’ve asked to have a link to this blog, or to our 6000-member forum on their web page, but they won’t– but they link to an R-B – supported forum instead– draw your own conclusions). But this issue is too important even for my own righteous anger to get in the way!
Send comments to the following e-mail or mailing address:
P.O. Box 333
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