Medical experts in Northern California are considering the Biden administration’s move to restrict the prescribing of buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, which some patients call a “miracle” or “magic” drug. Buprenorphine is said to work by reducing the desire for opioids and withdrawal symptoms, which can help people avoid relapse. “It basically stabilizes your brain chemistry to the point where you don’t experience withdrawal symptoms, so the withdrawal condition, the disease that addicts experience, is usually the driving force to keep using,” said Gareth Stenson, program director at Core Medical Clinic. “Usually after six months to two years, you stop getting the real maximum from it (opioids) and use it only to stay normal, so to speak,”
Medical experts in Northern California are assessing the Biden administration’s move to restrict the prescribing of buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, which some patients call a “miracle” or “magic” drug.
Buprenorphine is said to work by reducing opioid starvation and withdrawal symptoms, which can help people avoid relapse.
“It basically stabilizes your brain chemistry to the point where you don’t experience withdrawal symptoms, so the withdrawal condition, the disease that addicts experience, is usually the driving force to keep using,” said Gareth Stenson, program director at Core Medical Clinic. “Usually after six months to two years you stop getting its actual level (opioids) and use it to stay normal, so to speak,” he added.
“If you relapse and use, it actually blocks and covers the site of opiate receptors and blocks it,” he said.
Under new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, more health workers, including nurses, assistants and certified midwives, are now exempt from completing a federal training requirement to prescribe buprenorphine to up to 30 patients.
Stenson supports change.
“This will open up different treatment options for those who have previously been hesitant to receive treatment because of this stigma problem that they can get this through their primary care doctor,” he said.
A potential disadvantage of increased access to buprenorphine includes people who trade it on the streets for drugs, according to the program director.
“But usually when the drug is diverted to the streets, it goes to the right people who give up or try to prevent opiate addiction,” he said.
The new guidelines do not necessarily make providers offer post-prescription consulting services, which could also be a drawback, Stenson said.
“In a perfect world, we would like everyone to engage in counseling and work through those psychosocial behavioral issues that are, you know, a huge and important part of that,” he said.
KCRA 3 also spoke with Marlis Perez with the Ministry of Health, the agency responsible for the state drug assistance program (MAT).
Perez said that in 2017, California recognized the exploding opioid epidemic and launched a project to expand MAT to provide services to underserved communities and treat as many people as possible – as soon as possible.
“We have already increased and added over 650 new sites where individuals can get these services. With this funding alone, we have had over 32,000 people who actually receive services and these are new people,” Perez said.
According to Perez, one of the biggest changes is happening in prison systems.
“There are people going through our prison systems who need medical treatment and we’ve worked with over 32 counties. When they started the project with us, only maybe 5% of the people got the drugs they needed,” Perez said. he said. “We are now up to 35%.”
Medications and behavioral health services to avoid relapse are paid for through Medi-Cal, and there is also help for the uninsured or underinsured.
“They can still receive medicines and other services,” Perez said.
In addition to MAT services, the state also provides life-saving drugs to reverse Naloxone overdose.
“We’ve distributed over 600,000 sets of this, it’s actually called Narcan, and today we already have over 31,000, reports of reversing opioid overdoses,” Perez said.
With the new easing guidelines, Perez says more institutions can step up to treat the disease and help people get the care they need.
“Buprenorphine – would you say it brings people back to life?” Brittany Johnson of KCRA 3 asked Dr. Veronica Velazquez-Morphine.
“Yes, it’s true many times. It really is,” said Dr. Velazquez-Morfin, chief medical officer of health centers in El Dorado.
But Velazquez-Morphine said don’t expect to see changes and increased access to buprenorphine overnight.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily like a deal,” Velazquez-Morphine said. “We need to have other legal entities to catch up with this new law.”
Velazquez-Morphine said programs such as the California Bridge Program, which is expanding drugs to treat addiction through emergency departments, and people who can mentor newer doctors for various forms of addiction are key to making buprenorphine more effective. -available.
“This disease presents in all sorts of ways and all sorts of different combinations. Sometimes you don’t just deal with one substance, but there can be many substances. So just the approach to treating this patient will be different, and it will be individualized and just the possibility. “Monitoring patients often is really important,” she said.
The new guidelines follow the Trump administration’s efforts to ease restrictions on doctors in recent days, which the Biden administration has suspended for a report.
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