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Addiction Medication and the DEA

Nicholas Mercadante, Esq.

By Nick Mercadante, JD.
CEO & Founder, PursueCare
November 9, 2021

The DEA takes an aggressive stance towards pharmacies that dispense medications used in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Substance Use Disorder. This is incredibly short-sighted and does not have positive results for either pharmacies or people living with addiction.

The reality is that buprenorphine, particularly Suboxone, is a safe and effective medication for the treatment of OUD. The fact that the DEA sees fit to police it with the same broad regulatory brush it is using to overcorrect back from public scrutiny over pain pills speaks to the overall lack of understanding on how to handle this crisis at a base level.

It is the same principle that has damned the war on drugs for decades. If the goal is to prevent diversion, then make Suboxone more readily available through legal and accessible safe means, not less. If a patient can get MAT but can’t get the medication, what are the options? Often it is either finding suboxone on the street or finding another drug which may or may not have fentanyl in it and may or may not be safely used.

Squeezing an already fragile and thinly-spread infrastructure further disincentivizes resources, like traditional retail pharmacies, that could be directed at solving these endemic problems. The result of this practice will be more diversion, not less. It will also be more hopelessness and more loss of life, not less.