Why Is There a Patient Cap on Medication Used to Treat Heroin Addicts?


At Guernica, Lucas Mann (who lost his brother to heroin addiction) writes on why abstinence and methadone don’t work and how doctors are failing in their fight against arbitrary, DEA-enforced patient caps on buprenorphine — a promising treatment for heroin addiction.

Curran began prescribing in 2002. He was stunned by the results, and so were his patients. The first patients went out and told others, and there were many others. But he wasn’t supposed to treat an endless supply; at the time, a doctor was capped at thirty buprenorphine patients in any given year. Curran hit his cap in less than a week. In a matter of months, he was looking at over 700 people in need. He didn’t know what to do. He tried to get local methadone clinics (who were authorized to dispense buprenorphine) to take his patients, but they were unwilling to use anything but methadone.

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