Top Health Official Defends Suboxone

The Health Commissioner for the city of Baltimore will be testifying in front of the State Assembly regarding the benefits of buprenorphine (Suboxone) for heroin addicts.

“Buprenorphine can be abused — there’s no question about that,” Joshua Sharfstein told the press, “But it’s a balance of risk and benefits, and in Baltimore, it’s not a close call. The benefits far outweigh the risks.”

In recent months Baltimore has become something of a battleground over the relative dangers and merits of the use of Suboxone in treating opioid addicts, thanks in large part to heavy press coverage of the medication as well as its appearance on the black market. The city’s police department, meanwhile, has said the black market for buprenorphine is “not a significant law enforcement concern.”

Addiction specialist Dr. Michael Hayes also offered up a defense of the medication in comparison to Methadone, saying that Methadone “has to be tightly controlled, but because buprenorphine is extremely safe, it was our hope it would allow physicians to get back into treating addiction themselves.”

Source: The
Date: Jan. 23, 2008

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