The cost of the long-acting acting opiate substitution treatment buprenorphine has increased in price by over 700% in the last six months, according to the Guardian.
A month’s supply of buprenorphine had typically cost about £16. After the hike, created in part due to the cessation of a maker of the medication earlier this year, it was £130.
The article, mainly focussing on buprenophone prescribing in England, states that a clinic run by the Addaction saw the price it was paying for of the drug rise by 745%. Another local service saw its monthly buprenorphine bill soar from £11,058 to £55,543 in four months.
Turning Point, a drug treatment charity, said the impact of the price increase since May was equivalent to the annual budget of an entire local authority drug and alcohol treatment service. It said providers of substance use treatment were now having to work out whether they could afford to prescribe buprenorphine. It warned that any move to switch people from buprenorphine could result in disengagement in treatment and increases in drug-related deaths.
“Over the past six months we have seen prices rise by up to 700% as a result of shortages of buprenorphine,” said Lord Adebowale, chief executive of Turning Point. “Questions have to be asked as to whether this is sustainable in a sector already feeling the impact of budgets cut by 25% in five years. Urgent action is needed as it impacts some of the most vulnerable people in society.”