Please read this article: When an Iowa Family Doctor Takes On the Opioid Epidemic, NY Times, June 23, 2018 by Abby Goodnough.
Here are some highlights….
- We need more physicians in the United States that can prescribe buprenorphine (suboxone). Currently only 5% or 43,109 physicians can prescribe
- Luckily, Congress just passed a permanent allowance for Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine.
- Yet, half the counties in the U.S. do not have a single provider
- Doctors apply for grants to provide the treatment. They have to attend training and file information with the FDA. They essentially have to jump through more hoops to provide suboxone then prescribing opioids.
- There is substantial research showing that MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) works.
“Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease,” said Dr. Marwan Haddad (excerpt from the article). Therefore we cannot treat someone who has relapsed as a criminal and send them to jail. They need to be treated as a patient who desperately needs our help.
What do we do? We need to find more doctors willing to go through the training to prescribe suboxone and we need to help them find funding to provide the medication as well. To solve this crisis we need all hands on deck. We need to try everything at this point because we haven’t fixed the problem and we definitely haven’t solved it.