Special Report: State spends millions on addiction-fighting drug that is diverted for street sale

By Laura Krantz

Jessica Coleman, 34, of Rutland. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Jessica Coleman, 34, of Rutland. Photo by Laura Krantz / VTDigger

A drug intended to release addicts from the tyranny of heroin and painkillers is trafficked on the streets of Vermont alongside the very substances it was created to thwart.

Taxpayer dollars are subsidizing the addiction habits of hundreds of Vermonters, and lawmakers are considering legislation to crack down on buprenorphine diversion.

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The state last year spent $8.25 million in Medicaid money on buprenorphine, a narcotic prescribed to help Vermonters overcome dependency on opiates.


State officials have no idea how much buprenorphine, known by the brand name Suboxone, is diverted, even as the state funnels more money into the fight against what Gov. Peter Shumlin calls a “full-blown heroin crisis.”

The very drug that is supposed to be part of the solution is increasingly becoming a problem as some addicts sell their medication on the street to buy cheaper drugs, such as heroin.

You can buy buprenorphine outside Rite Aid on Cherry Street in Burlington. “Got the bupe?” people ask. “Got the strips?”

Most Vermonters who take “street bupe” aren’t after a high, they are tired of chasing pills or heroin, and they are self-medicating with illegally obtained bupe because they can’t get medical care.

Waitlists for Suboxone treatment from private doctors can extend six months or even several years. Hundreds of addicts in Vermont are waiting to see a doctor who can prescribe buprenorphine.

To read the rest of the article to find out more, just go to the “Link to Original Article” below.

LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE: https://vtdigger.org/2014/02/11/special-report-state-spends-millions-addiction-fighting-drug-diverted-street-sale/?fbclid=IwAR1vcUGumDHZIMbmXB0z96GXQmD1B1-TtGprS-6xyPbMKUCoz9R-SmaQXFk

TAGS: addiction, fighting, drug-diverted, Suboxone, Painkillers, taxpayers, trafficked

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