Suboxone recognized as new first line of treatment for opioid substitution therapy

published on May 24, 2018 by Anna Dimoff in CBC News

Opioid replacement drug works quicker and is safer for patients, stakeholders say

Jurisdictions in the United States are now using Suboxone as an alternative to methadone to fight the opioid crisis, and Canadian experts are pushing health-care providers to do the same.

Suboxone, like methadone, is a form of opioid replacement therapy and with 161 people dying of illicit drug overdoses in March of this year, front-line workers in B.C. see the treatment as a potential solution.

“It’s not a new medication but it’s newer in comparison to methadone and it’s just starting to become recognized among, not just addictions physicians, but all health-care providers,”  said Dr. Seonaid Nolan, the medical director of the addictions program at St. Paul’s Hospital and a clinical researcher with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.

But the complex nature of Suboxone and the shortage of those trained to administer it are just some of the barriers to the drug being more widely distributed than it is in B.C, according to Nolan.

Dr. Mark McLean, the medical lead of the Rapid Access Addictions Clinic at St. Paul’s, said the complexity of the drug is one reason why some doctors are hesitant to prescribe it: It can only be taken during a specific stage of withdrawal. Otherwise, it can cause severe sudden withdrawal.

View the full article