1 in 5 pharmacies blocks access to key drug to treat opioid addiction

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In a new study from Oregon Health & Science University, researchers found that one in five pharmacies refuse to dispense a key medication to treat addiction

They called hundreds of pharmacies around the country to ask whether they would dispense Suboxone, also known as buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine is a vital, lifesaving medication for people with opioid use disorder, but improving access has been a problem for a variety of reasons.

The study found it’s quite common for pharmacies to block access.

In the study, tour researchers called a total of 921 pharmacies around the country in May and June of 2020, focusing on 473 U.S. counties with high rates of death from opioid-related overdoses.

Of all the pharmacies contacted, they found that 183—20% of the total—indicated they would not dispense buprenorphine.

They found that independent pharmacies and those in southern U.S. states were significantly more likely to restrict buprenorphine.

Any disruption in access to buprenorphine can put a patient’s recovery at serious risk.

Buprenorphine, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, relieves withdrawal symptoms and pain, and normalizes brain function by acting on the same targets in the brain as prescription opioids or heroin.

It is one of three medicines approved by the FDA to treat opioid dependence, along with methadone and naltrexone.

The team hopes the research raises awareness of the stigma against people with opioid use disorder.

As the nation’s opioid epidemic continues to claim more than 70,000 lives annually in overdose deaths, they hope the new findings will encourage pharmacists to do their part to roll back the epidemic.

If you care about opioid addiction, please read studies about the key to recovering from opioid addiction and findings of a new method for pain relief without opioids.

For more information about opioid addiction treatment and prevention, please see recent studies about common herb for treating opioid addiction and pain may harm your health and results showing that taking opioids for chronic pain: here’s what the experts recommend.

The study is published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. One author of the study is Daniel Hartung, Pharm.D., M.P.H.

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