Monday, April 05, 2010

Methadone dispensing under increasing scrutiny in Scotland

In NZ there around 4,500 people on the methadone programme.

In Scotland, where the population is only 5 million, there are 22,000 on methadone.

As my husband noted, there must be long queues at the pharmacies in the morning.

It is no wonder that methadone has become a political football in Scotland but expense is a red herring. Methadone itself isn't expensive but the management of patients and dispensing adds up.

A coalition of world experts in drug abuse have defended the use of methadone to treat heroin addicts and warned that curtailing its prescription would bring about a spike in overdoses, crime and HIV.

In a letter to The Scotsman, the group, comprising dozens of international specialists, have condemned the "continuing misrepresentation" surrounding the effectiveness of the heroin substitute and rejected claims that is too expensive.

The defence of methadone by the coalition of GPs, psychiatrists, counsellors and epidemiologists comes in the wake of growing criticism of the treatment and accusations that the Scottish Government has become overly reliant on the drug.

Last week, Professor Neil McKeganey, the director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow, argued that more effort was required to get Scotland's addicts off drugs through abstinence.


Berry said...

The simple solution is to legalize any and all drugs, and use the gigantic amount of money that becomes available to create a happier society that fewer people want to escape from. (How to do that is another story involving reducing government).

Richard McGrath said...

I agree with you about legalising drugs, Bez. Methadone would then be just another opioid drug in competition with others such as heroin, oxycodone, morphine, buprenorphine, etc. Methadone can be lethal to children in relatively small (20 mg) doses, so it may not end up as widely used as it is currently.