The ‘bupe’ fix

The Baltimore Sun just ran an article on buprenorphine diversion:

There’s a new narcotic on the street in Baltimore and other communities – and taxpayers helped put it there.

The hexagonal orange pills some users call “bupe” are championed as an exceptional treatment for heroin and pain-pill addicts. Federal officials have spent millions of dollars to help create and promote buprenorphine, and are encouraging thousands of private doctors to prescribe it.

But making buprenorphine widely available has also made it easy for patients to sell the narcotic illegally, leading to growing abuse, an investigation by The Sun found. Some people have died after misusing it with other drugs.

Heroin addicts hardened by years on city streets, and youthful buyers in suburban and rural areas, are using it to get high – sometimes in dangerous combination with other substances – and to tide them over when they can’t obtain heroin or other narcotics.

The drug, mainly prescribed in a form called Suboxone, is intended to be dissolved under the tongue. But some abusers are crushing the pills to snort or inject buprenorphine, a dangerous practice that medical experts believed could be deterred by a chemical safeguard in Suboxone.

[via jointogether.org]