This from the Boston Herald (http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=141535) :
Shrink fights quota on addiction-breaking drug
By Laura Crimaldi
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - Updated: 12:30 AM EST
A Fall River psychiatrist who acknowledges breaking the law to treat the scores of desperate opiate addicts who seek him out for “addiction-busting” buprenorphine is rallying this weekend to end prescribing restrictions on the drug.
Dr. Claude Curran expects hundreds of people, including doctors, nurses and patients, to descend on Boston’s City Hall Plaza Saturday to throw their support behind a bill that would eliminate the 30-patient limit placed on physicians who prescribe buprenorphine.
“This medication is less addicting than any form of treatment,” Curran said.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It curbs cravings for heroin and narcotic painkillers by binding to the same opioid receptors those drugs target in the brain.
“It would make my life a hell of a lot better,” said Barry Andrade, 46, a longtime heroin addict who participated in a clinical trial for buprenorphine in the 1990s and now wants back on the drug.
Federal regulations prohibit physicians from treating more than 30 patients with buprenorphine at a time. A bill filed last month by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) would eliminate the 30-patient cap for any physician who has had a federal waiver to prescribe the drug for more than one year.
Curran said at one point he had about 600 patients on the drug while he was waiting for a license to run a methadone clinic. Now, he estimates his patient load consists of about 150 people.
“There is a great need. We are unable to meet the demand,” said Dr. Daniel Alford, the medical director of the Office-Based Opiate Treatment Program at Boston Medical Center. “I think it’s crazy to break the law because you are putting the whole treatment modality at risk.”
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