Generic Suboxone could help epidemic

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 19, 2018

On Thursday of last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first generic version of Suboxone, a filmstrip that dissolves under the tongue to reduce withdrawal symptoms, cravings for opioids and the high from abusing them, and local pharmacists say that this could be helpful in fighting the opioid epidemic.

“If it gets to a point where it is more affordable, then it will help,” Jeff Bailey of Bailey’s Pharmacy said. “But I haven’t seen it around here that much.”

Suboxone without insurance costs around $867 a month for someone who is taking it three times a day, said Walmart Pharmacist Debra Maraman.

“Some people have cards that will help them pay for it,” Maraman said. “But other than that, we have people paying out of pocket for it.”

As an opioid drug, Suboxone abuse and addiction can occur. People may buy, sell, or trade their Suboxone, take Suboxone that is not prescribed to them, or take inappropriate doses of Suboxone.

“We are getting very strict,” Maraman said. “We are trying to hold patients to the date that the script says, because we are getting pretty suspicious of people trying to abuse the medicine.”

Suboxone is a mixture of naloxone and buprenorphine, and is usually give to people to facilitate detox, withdrawal and the early stages of opioid abuse recovery. Bailey said that most of the prescriptions that he receives are from out-of-county pain management doctors.

“We are getting scripts from mostly the Montgomery and Dothan area,” Bailey said. “We don’t have a pain management doctor here so we haven’t seen the effects of Suboxone.”

Suboxone is commonly used in medication-assisted treatment, which is an approach that combines FDA-approved medications with counseling and other behavioral therapies to treat patients with opioid use disorder.

Medication-assisted treatment is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ five-point strategy to combat the opioid crisis having better addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services, better data, better pain management, better targeting of overdose reversing drugs and better research.

“My problem with the opioid epidemic is that I don’t see a solution,” Maraman said. “What is the plan? That’s all I would like to see, but like I said, I just don’t see an ending to it.”