Drug to Treat Heroin Addicts Jumps in Price

The cost of a medication used to treat heroin addiction has increased by more than a third for 2012, but the price hike may not affect how many users Franklin County treats.

Suboxone has proven to be very effective in helping opiate addicts to stop using, according to Day Reporting Center Program Director Kim Eaton.

Users have said that the medicine takes away the craving to use opiates. The Day Reporting Center, Franklin County Jail and the county drug and alcohol program provides the treatment to some clients.

Franklin County commissioners recently approved an eight-month contract with North Point Pharmacy, Chambersburg, to provide the medication through June 30. The cost of a two-milligram pill will increase from $3.95 to $5.52, and an eight-milligram dose will jump from $7.02 to $9.59.

The county will spend as much as $119,764 on suboxone during the period — $43,847 through funding from the state Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and $75,917 through the Restrictive Intermediate Punishment Program grant.

“We are looking at other medication-assisted treatment options, such as vivitrol,” said Becky Greenawalt, director of the Franklin/Fulton Drug and Alcohol Program. “The amount we pay for suboxone will decrease in order to split the available funds with this medication. Vivitrol is not a controlled substance and is not as easily diverted as suboxone. It is more expensive, but also individuals are not getting it and selling it on the streets.”

Vivitrol is available as a monthly injection costing about $850, but the treatment regimen is shorter, according to Greenawalt. Six months of suboxone treatment will cost about $1,900.

“Over a year’s period, we will be serving about the same amount of individuals,” she said.

Either medication, coupled with counseling, is cheaper than a 21-day inpatient treatment session costing $4,200.

The county also spends money from fines on suboxone treatment. The jail, county adult probation department and the DRC receive fines levied on drug and alcohol crimes (Act 198 fund) for medication-assisted treatment, including suboxone.

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