Friday, December 02, 2022
Officials, advocates push more rural health-care providers to prescribe Suboxone (buprenorphine) for drug addiction
|Bonnie Purk, left, meets with nurse practitioner Andrea Storjohann at the
Primary Health Care clinic in Marshalltown, Iowa. (Photo by Tony Leys, KHN)
More than 150 people a day die of overdoses related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and disproportionate share of the dead will be from rural areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given the magnitude of loss and the prevalence of fentanyl in most illicit drugs, more rural medical providers are prescribing buprenorphine for patients struggling to end their addictions, and treatment advocates are pushing them to do more, Tony Leys reports for Kaiser Health News: “The number of U.S. health care providers certified to prescribe buprenorphine more than doubled in the past four years. Treatment advocates hope to see that trend continue.”
Such “maintenance treatment” has been done mainly with methadone, but it “is tightly regulated, due to concerns that it can be abused,” Leys explains. “Only specialized clinics offer methadone maintenance treatment, and most of them are in cities. Many patients starting methadone treatment are required to travel daily to the clinics, where staffers watch them swallow their medicine.”
Andrea Storjohann, a nurse practitioner in Marshalltown, Iowa, a town of 27,000, works in a repurposed grocery building, with “no signs designating it as a place for people to seek treatment for drug addiction, which is how Storjohann wants it,” Leys writes. Until recently, “We were kind of a unicorn in this part of the state, but that is changing,” Storjohann told Leys.