Legal Uses of Buprenorphine for pain (Buprenex®) and opioid addiction

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Legal Uses of Buprenorphine (Buprenex®) & (Suboxone® and Subutex®).

(based on DEA Narcotic Addict Treatment Act effective 2006)

  • Treatment of pain under the trade name of (Buprenex®)
  • Treatment of opioid addiction under the trade names (Suboxone® and Subutex®).


Prescriptions Dispensed for Buprenorphine in the US

In 2009, there were 5,080,000 prescriptions for buprenorphine dispensed.

In 2010 (up to September) there were 4,600,000 buprenorphine prescriptions dispensed which is on a pace to reach 5,750,000 prescriptions dispensed by the end of 2010.


69 Tons of Pure Oxycodone & 42 Tons of pure hydrocodone were dispensed the US in 2010

Nationwide, pharmacies received and ultimately dispensed the equivalent of 69 tons of pure oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. That’s enough to give 40 5-mg Percocets and 24 5-mg Vicodins to every person in United States

How many pills that equates to for every single person in the Unites States for a year?  

  • 40 Percocets
  • 24 Vicodins

Parts of New Mexico have seen tenfold increases in oxycodone sales per capita and fivefold increases in hydrocodone. The state had the highest rate of opioid painkiller overdoses in 2008, with 27 per 100,000 population.  The increases have coincided with a wave of overdose deaths, pharmacy robberies and other problems in Nevada, Utah, Florida and other states. Opioid pain relievers, the category that includes oxycodone and hydrocodone, caused 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008 alone, and the death toll is rising, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

2001 Narcotic Addict Treatment Act Amendment

Amended to allow qualified physicians, under certification of the DHHS, to prescribe schedule III-V narcotic drugs (FDA approved for the indication of narcotic treatment) for narcotic addiction, up to 30 patients per physician at any time, outside the context of clinic-based narcotic treatment programs.

2005  Narcotic Addict Treatment Act Amendment

The patient limit was increased to 100 patients per physician, for physicians who meet the specified criteria, under the Office of National Drug Control Policy Re-authorization Act.

2006   National Drug Control Policy Re-authorization Act

The patient limit was increased to 100 patients per physician, for physicians who meet the specified criteria, under the Office of National Drug Control Policy Re-authorization Act.



Suboxone® and Subutex® are the only treatment drugs that meet the requirement of this exemption. Currently, there are nearly 15,700 physicians who have been approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the DEA for office-based narcotic buprenorphine treatment.

Of those physicians, approximately 13,150 were approved to treat up to 30 patients per provider and about 2,500 were approved to treat up to 100 patients.

More than 3,000 physicians have submitted their intention to treat up to 100 patients per provider. IMS Health National Prescription Audit Plus data indicate that 5.08 million buprenorphine prescriptions were dispensed in the US in 2009.



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