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Drugs: Misuse

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many finished admission episodes there were where the admission was via accident and emergency for a drugs misuse related diagnosis, broken down by NHS trust in (a) 2005, (b) 2006 and (c) 2007. (203240)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 25 April 2008, Official Report, column 2383W, on drug treatment, how many hospital admissions in the last five years were related to illegal drug use, broken down by type of drug. (204410)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the relative (a) efficiency and (b) effectiveness of (i) Suboxone and (ii) methadone in treating drug addiction; whether such drugs will be made more widely available on the NHS; and if he will make a statement. (207227)

Both Suboxone and methadone are available on the national health service. The decision to use either drug is a clinical one, taken following consultation with the patient about their clinical needs and priorities.

In January 2007 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published the Technology Appraisal, “Methadone and buprenorphine for managing opioid dependence”, which recommended the use of both methadone and buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid dependence. Such treatments must be funded and provided within the NHS in line with NICE recommendations. However, this appraisal did not consider Suboxone, a newer product which combines buprenorphine and naloxone.

However, advice on prescribing of Suboxone is included within the joint Department and National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse publication, “Drug Misuse and Dependence: UK Guidelines on Clinical Management”, published in September 2007, copies of which have been placed in the Library and are also available on the Department's website online at:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Healthimprovement/Substancemisuse/Substancemisusegeneralinformation/DH_4064342

As with all new medicines, Suboxone's exact place in treatment is still being established, although the Department's clarification of August 2007 that Suboxone can be dispensed using existing instalment dispensing arrangements, may have removed a possible barrier to the availability of Suboxone.