The Red Tape Surrounding A Possible Solution To Opioid Addiction

Opioids are killing so many Americans that demographers say that they are likely behind a striking drop in life expectancy.  Yet most of the more than two millions people addicted to opioid painkiller get no treatment. However, a small number of primary care doctors are starting to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication that helps suppress the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that plague people addicted to opioids.  To really make a dent in this public health emergency, many more doctors may need to start prescribing buprenorphine.
A substantial amount of research has found that people who take buprenorphine are less likely to die and more likely to stay in treatment. It is an opioid itself, but relatively weak, activating the brain’s opioid receptors enough to ease cravings, yet not enough to provide a high in people accustomed to stronger drugs.
However, in half the counties in the United States don’t have a single buprenorphine prescriber.  Doctors who do prescribe that drug have to follow strict federal requirements and live with the possibility that the Drug Enforcement Administration might inspect their office with no warning. Also, insurers require doctors who prescribe buprenorphine to jump through constant hoops to get the medication approved for their patients.
The Government and insurance companies must come up with solutions to minimize the red tape associated with prescribing buprenorphine.  For now, doctors risk licensing discipline and insurance audits for using it to help addicts.
The Red Tape Surrounding A Possible Solution To Opioid Addiction



Addiction to prescription painkillers is an ongoing problem in our society. With addiction and misuse of the drug, comes heavy fatalities. According to a report by the CDC, drug over doses killed a staggering 63,632 Americans in 2016, with more than two thirds (66%) being due to prescription or illicit opioid.

Governor Bruce Rauner, will soon be looking into a bill that has proposed that in order to avoid overuse and overdoses of opioids, certain patients should be allowed temporary access into the states medical marijuana program.

According to Senator Don Harmon, the legislation which passed with bipartisan and supermajorities will be soon placed in front of the republican Governor.

Medical marijuana, being given and allowed in place of prescription painkillers and opioids will not end and subside the endemic of opioid overuse, however it may help to curtail it. Studies and reports have shown reduction in opioid-related fatalities and opioid prescriptions in states that allow the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

According to Sen. Harmon this bill has a number of benefits as it would do more than just assist pain patients in taking part in what would be called “Opioid Alternative Pilot Program”. It would significantly reduce waits for other patients to get access to one of the state’s approved cannabis dispensaries after their doctors certify that they have one of the 41 qualifying conditions. Patients are waiting 60 to 120 days for documents to be processed by the state so they can receive program membership cards.

According to this proposed bill, patients for the traditional medical cannabis pilot program would almost immediately receive provisional permits to buy less than 2.5 ounces of cannabis from dispensaries every two weeks for up to 90 days after they submit the required forms and certifications from their doctors. The long term applications can then be processed meanwhile.

This bill is manufactured in a way to give legal access to medical marijuana for the same time frame that the pain patients would otherwise be prescribed opioids, which are far more addictive and hazardous.

The bill would also eliminate the previous requirement of fingerprinting and background checks, a process that delays the patient from receiving their membership cards.

The bill also proposes to have the application forms filled by the patients themselves, a process that is being heavily billed by some companies, as they take advantage of the patients and have them fill the form through them. The bill outlaws and dismisses such fees and violators could face charges of class C Misdemeanour.

If approved and accepted, this bill could potentially increase the enrolment of the Medical Cannabis program by almost eight fold.