MD addresses misuse of addiction therapy

Maryland health officials are defending themselves against charges of potentially widespread misuse of addiction-treatment drug buprenorphine, arguing that there are adequate controls in place within programs that administer the drug to addicts. The drug, which is prescribed as Suboxone for addiction treatment, is sometimes sold by patients on the street--and addicts sometimes inject and snort the drug. In other states where the drug is readily available, such as Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, some addicts have died after mixing it with other substances, according to recent reports. 

However, public health officials told legislators this week that they're taking many precautions to protect this vulnerable population and avoid abuse of the drug. The city of Baltimore, for example, has 14 safeguards in place, including pill counts, tests for buprenorphine in patient urine and asking addicts if they've used the drug on the street. Baltimore has a $3 million initiative in place which has treated nearly 700 patients.

To learn more about problems with buprenorphine management:
- read this Baltimore Sun piece