Drug developed to treat addiction is being abused, so much that clinics have been opened to sell it

“Suboxone, a popular and highly touted medicine designed to get people
off opioids such as painkillers and heroin, is increasingly being
abused, sold on the streets and inappropriately prescribed, according to
doctors and drug control and law enforcement officials,” Laura Ungar reports for The Courier-Journal. “The drug combines buprenorphine, an opioid, and naloxone, which counters
the effects of an overdose. Prescriptions for Suboxone and its generic
equivalent rose 63 percent in Kentucky between the first quarter of 2012
and the first quarter of this year, to 113,713 from 69,640.”

One reason is the state’s crackdown on pain clinics that were little more than pill mills. “In lieu of that, now people are opening Suboxone clinics. Many are
cash-only,” Leanne Diakov, general counsel for the Kentucky Board
of Medical Licensure
, told Ungar. “We have seen some doctors in trouble with
licenses or finances opening these clinics.” Ungar found that 14 percent, or 45, of the 330 Kentucky physicians authorized to prescribe buprenorphine “have a history of
discipline by the medical board.”

Attorney General Jack Conway told Ungar that suboxone abuse “is certainly on my radar, but I’ve kind of been careful
to tread lightly. Some
people desperately need Suboxone. I view it as a treatment of last
resort . . . not a magic pill for addiction.” Doctors told Ungar that some addicts self-medicate with Suboxone and use it to stave off withdrawal symptoms “when they have nowhere else to turn,” she writes

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