Abuse of prescription buprenorphine, regulatory controls and the role of the primary physician.
INTRODUCTION: Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist approved in several countries for the treatment of opioid dependence. It was approved in Singapore in 2002 for this indication, and is more widely available in the primary care setting and can be prescribed by all licensed physicians who have undergone designated training. There is limited literature addressing the risk of its illicit abuse via intravenous self-administration. CLINICAL PICTURE: We report 2 such cases of the abuse of prescription buprenorphine in the psychiatric consultation-liaison service of a general teaching hospital, the treatment approaches and outcomes. CONCLUSION: We also briefly review the indications, uses and abuses of buprenorphine in Singapore, and as reported in other countries, and the roles of primary care physicians, in order to stimulate greater awareness and understanding among specialists and general practitioners, who would encounter these patients in various settings.
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