Maine Sets 2-Yr Buprenorphine and Methadone Use Limit

Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
09/27/2012 -ATIN- As the Bangor Area Recovery Network holds its 5th annual addiction treatment drug rehab alcohol rehab summit this week, Maine is bracing itself for draconian cutbacks in the state when it comes to medication assisted treatment, specifically Suboxone and methadone. Even as heroin addiction soars in Maine – and, indeed, throughout the East Coast as doing the drug has literally become cheaper than going out to a bar – Maine policymakers have thought it a good idea, starting Jan 1, to retroactively impose a two-year cap on the use of buprenorphine Rockland, ME, where Colonial Management Group plans to open a methadone clinicand methadone. The retroactive provision means that some that are already on the drug will be cut off. In effect, the state is outlawing maintainance use of the drugs.

Suboxone’s High Cost

This will also affect private access to the drugs in Maine, but since it can easily cost $5K a year – monthly doctor office visits account for up to half the cost – for a non-insured individual to stay on Suboxone, it is highly unlikely that a Medicaid recipient would be able to make such a transition if they found their funding in jeopordy. But the issue in Maine does not just affect funding, it is also a moritoriam on the maintainance use of buprenorphine and methadone.

CRC’s Methadone Battle

Methadone typically costs much less, but Treatment Magazine has gotten information from readers that costs are rising as CRC Health Corp, the nation’s largest methadone clinic operator with about 60 clinics nationwide, has instituted relentless price hikes recently. And CRC is in fact just coming off a 2-yr hard fought battle in Maine to establish a methadone clinic near Bangor, a fight that was so controversial that it resulted in the resignation this week of a 20-yr veteran of the planning board who provided the winning vote when the clinic was approved in June. In a highly unusual situation, many areas have methadone clinic monopolies, CRC will be going head-to-head with its arch competitor, Colonial Managment Group, the second largest clinic operator, which is close to opening a methadone clinic in what is known as the “mid-coast” area of Maine as well.

Back to the Street?

Maine has decided to institute the cap despite an in-depth report from its Office of Substance Abuse on the high level of effectiveness of the drugs in combating substance abuse in six locations throughout the state and the HUGE level of demand, especially for Suboxone, from consumers. Ominously, the report revealed that 85 percent of those seeking medication assisted treatment had previously gotten either methadone or Suboxone from street dealers. With the state cut-off it looks like many will be forced into that route once again, which some Treatment Magazine readers have said is actually cheaper anyway than paying out-of-pocket going to a doctor or a clinic.