Suboxone Use Grows

Buprenorphine is used to treat opioid dependence and ease the withdrawl symptoms of drugs like heroin. Buprenorphine is marketed under the names Suboxone and Subutex and was approved by the FDA in 2002.

The drug is closely regulated and doctors must be approved in order to prescribe it, in 2005 there were only 5,656 physicians certified to prescribe Suboxone for the treatment of addiction to opiates. The 2010 data is now available and there are now 18,582 certified physicians prescribing Buprenorphine and the number of patients receiving it has risen from 100,000 in 2005 to 800,000 in 2010.

The sharp rise in the use of Buprenorphine has also had its impact on Emergency Department visits involving the drug, see this chart provided by SAMHSA Drug Abuse Warning Network

Emergency Department (ED) Visits Involving Buprenorphine: 2005 to 2010

While many of those visits were from patients seeking substance abuse treatment or having a drug reaction or interaction, a full 52% or 15,778 of those visits were for non-medical use of the drug. Nonmedical use includes taking more than the prescribed dose of a prescription medication or, taking a prescription medication prescribed for someone else, or misusing or abusing a prescription medication.