San Francisco will bring anti-addiction medication the streets


Lenny Bernstein | The Washington Post

San Francisco will begin supplying anti-addiction medication to long-term drug users and homeless people on city streets, an attempt to overcome a formidable obstacle to treatment that has complicated efforts to address the opioid crisis.

The city is scheduled to announce Thursday that its medical providers will offer buprenorphine and naltrexone prescriptions at needle exchanges, in parks and in other places where people with opioid disorders congregate. Users will be able to pick up the medications, which block the craving for opioids and the painful symptoms of withdrawal, at a centrally-located city-run pharmacy.

The city is billing the plan as the first of its kind in the United States, though a few other communities have tried similar programs over the years.

“If we’re going to save people’s lives, we can’t wait for addicts to come to us. We have to go to them and engage. And offer. And give support,” said Barbara Garcia, director of health for the city and county of San Francisco.

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The United States faces a shortage of drug treatment options of all kinds. Medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone is widely considered the most effective way to wean users off opioids, but it is still in short supply and relapses are common, especially among people with the most severe form of opioid use disorder.

Buprenorphine, taken as a film placed on the tongue or in pill form, is generally dispensed by doctors or other providers who must receive eight hours of special training. Typically they give it to users daily or supply them with a few doses at a time. Naltrexone is offered as an injection that lasts a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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