Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bills Would Overhaul Methadone Regulation

A Pennsylvania Senator wants to strengthen state controls on the use of methadone, a drug used to treat opiate addiction.

Senator Mike Stack of Philadelphia County says methadone is dangerously addictive and can kill patients. He says methadone treatment started in the 1970s, but it’s even more common now.

Stack says one of his two bills would create a Methadone Death and Incident Review Team, which would work with the Department of Health to translate methadone fatality data into policy recommendations.

“Whether it’s some kind of incident where somebody has a car accident or whether they die, we’d determine what role the methadone played,” says Stack. “If it was a role that was harmful, then that’s something we’d have to look at for our statistics to determine where we’re misusing methadone and where the wrong candidates are getting methadone.”

Stack’s other bill would create the Methadone Addiction Prevention and Treatment Act. Stack says that would permit methadone use only when other treatment options are exhausted.

If methadone is used, patients would be assigned a schedule to gradually stop using methadone. Patients would also have counseling for two hours each week to determine if the treatment is working, and clinics would be open every day to prevent users from taking large doses home over the weekend.

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