Marv Seppala Drags Hazelden to Opiate Modernity

Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
11/07/2012 – ATIN – Chief Medical Officer Marv Seppala has dragged Hazelden into the modern world, pushing hard for the introduction of more evidence-based practices with regard to the introduction of medication assisted therapies at the world renowned addiction treatment drug rehab alcohol rehab center. None other than Time Magazine itself has devoted big space to the news that, finally, Hazelden is recognizing advancements in opiate replacement therapies with the introduction of buprenorphine-based maintenance drugs like Suboxone and how much safer and effective these new drugs are than methadone, which was previously the only drug used in long-term opiate replacement.

Zero Euphoria

First off, it is clinically IMPOSSIBLE for someone who is not opiate naïf, in other words a long-time opiate user, to experience euphoria with buprenorphine and, thus, the drug is a miracle one when it comes to avoiding the long withdrawal that often occurs with opiate addiction recovery that lasts many months at times, with hot/cold chills, sleeplessness and, probably most important, a very demoralizing lack of energy and listlessness. The shame is that it has taken this long for the nation’s richest and most influential addiction center – Hazelden has approximately a $250M endowment – to come around to the obvious. No doubt influencing Hazelden’s decision was the fact that the center was in danger of becoming an also ran in the fast growing business of treating opiate addiction, if it hadn’t already begun the process of becoming so.

The Real Story

And it’s also a shame that Time Magazine devoted such a lot of space in its pages to a story that should have been a non-story. It could have instead devoted that space to hHazelden CMO Dr. Marv Seppalaow Suboxone manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser is throwing road blocks in the way of making its hugely expensive replacement therapy less expensive through the introduction of generics. Have a look at Reckitt’s latest quarterly numbers, the biggest profits in its history, to see just how profitable the franchise is for a company that is primarily in the business of low growth household products.

Seppala’s Tough Road

Marv Seppala, one of the most highly regarded CMOs in the industry – and not just because he leads medical at the famous Hazelden – has had a rough road at the Minnesota Model pioneer. Like most of the top echelon of Hazelden execs who reported to the widely despised former CEO Ellen Breyer, Seppala quit in disgust several years ago. After Treatment Magazine reported on the management turmoil, and the story was picked up by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Hazelden’s board moved get rid of Breyer and Seppala not too long after regained his position as medical chief. It’s a job he’s always loved, thanking Treatment Magazine profusely as he did at the time for “getting it” generally with respect to issues facing Hazelden, and especially when it came to the turmoil surrounding Breyer’s management style and the damage it was doing. Treatment Magazine has long been highly critical of Hazelden and thus the institution rarely responds to requests for comment, so we did not send any for this article. And now that Seppala has his job back, he doesn’t appear very grateful to us anymore for taking on the most powerful addiction player – and BY FAR the biggest advertiser in the space – and it has been a long time since he has returned an email as well.

read our influential story on management turmoil under Ellen Breyer