Drug Meant to Aid Recovery from Addiction Has a Dark Side
Suboxone, or what is known as “bupe” to some, is commonly prescribed to those who are attempting to address their addiction to opioids. For some, like Shawn Schneider, it has been the answer to their prayers of escaping the clutches of drug addiction. Prior to taking “bupe”, Mr. Schneider was addicted to prescription painkillers and had lost everything, including is wife, home, job and will to live. However, thanks to a twice daily regiment of bupe and weekly meetings with his psychiatrist, Mr. Schneider is now remarried, gainfully employed and has a new vigor for life. He credits suboxone for saving his life, but for others it hasn’t been the cure-all for their addiction problems. In fact, Miles Malone died after taking bupe.
The Dark Side of Bupe
Bupe, which is a nickname from buprenorphine, is commonly sold as the compound known as suboxone. It is a substitute opioid used to treat opioid addiction. It has generated $1.55 billion in the U.S. last year alone, with its success largely attributable to the exploding opioid addiction epidemic and the push of federal officials who see it as a safer alternative to methadone to treat addiction. However, what many do not know is that suboxone has created a virulent subculture of cash-only bupe clinics and drug dealers. Opioid addicts may purchase bupe to stave off withdrawal or as an attempt to avoid a visit to the doctor for their addiction. Bupe is also known as the “prison heroin”, since it is easy to smuggle inside prison walls–particularly in its newest form, a dissolvable strip. Although bupe is a much milder opioid than say heroin, it has the potential to become addictive and even kill. Miles Malone died of bupe poisoning after his friend invited him to try it back in 2010. That friend was recently sentenced to 71 months in prison, and Mr. Malone’s death serves as a haunting reminder to his family of the dangers of the drug.
Big Pharma May Not be the Answer to Addiction
Unfortunately, this story is one more example of how big pharma might not be doing us any favors when it comes to opioid addiction. Mr. Schneider’s addiction BEGAN with prescription opioids and he is now clean only because he is taking two milder prescription opioids (bupe) a day. I am in favor of using prescription drugs when and if they are necessary; clearly, they are vital in many cases including lowering blood pressure, treating diabetes, and a host of other maladies that would’ve probably wiped us out without the treatment of modern medicine. However, addiction is a complex mental illness with significant social stigma and it won’t be easily cured by slapping a prescription drug over the problem–particularly when that drug is becoming a problem in and of itself.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.