Making the opioid addiction medication buprenorphine more widely available outweighs the risk the drug will be diverted, addiction experts tell NPR. President Trump is expected to sign a bill that would increase access to the medication.
Some people who have prescriptions for buprenorphine or Suboxone–a brand-name version of buprenorphine that is combined with naloxone–sell or give it away. Addiction treatment professionals say a black market for the medication exists in part because addiction treatment can be difficult to find. People may buy buprenorphine on the black market to prevent withdrawal and to help them stay away from other illegal drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.
People often try to treat themselves for opioid addiction when they cannot get into real treatment, said Dr. Michelle Lofwall, an addiction specialist at the University of Kentucky. “These people want help, and they tried and they didn’t succeed. So now they’re going to go get it if it’s available,” she said.