Who needs Viagra and Adderall when you can have Suboxone?

Addiction Doctor with Suboxone Adderall Viagra

Suboxone will outsell and out-prescribe Adderall and Viagra this year

Suboxone Sales Estimated to Reach $1.4 Billion in 2012: More Than the Blockbusters Viagra or Adderall 

These data, fresh in from a Drugs.com report and described through CESAR, the Center for Substance Abuse Research which is a department of  The University of Maryland describe how large is the treatment scope for the drug Suboxone.  Suboxone also known as buprenorphine,  the main ingredient in Suboxone,  has been extremely useful for people wanting to stop abusing opioid drugs though it has also received bad press because it can be abused and diverted and oftentimes is associated with substance dependent individuals struggling to achieve and maintain abstinence  The drug Suboxone is likely not to blame, rather it is the disease of addiction that is most often the culprit.  Suboxone can be used quite effectively when an individual is motivated to seek and maintain recovery. In fact, most drugs used to treat addiction often get a bad rap as do therapists and rehabs because addiction is a nasty disease and frankly speaking, it can make any drug, therapist, rehab or treatment specialist look really bad or like they don’t know what they are doing. 

In many ways it seems like as a culture we are so caught up with having enough attention and energy to accomplish all the things that we over commit to because we just want more and more of everything.  We want more drugs to have more fun, more relaxation, more money, more things, more vacation, more sex. Our society tells us we still don’t have enough and we feel frustrated, sad and demoralized that we don’t have enough of these things so we seek some consolation to dull the pain. Opioids work the best for that.  So if Viagra and Adderall don’t do the trick, Opiods, and eventually Suboxone, will.

Here is what this most recent report found:  

Sales data from the first three quarters of 2012 indicate that Suboxone retail sales in the U.S. will likely reach $1.4 billion in this year—nearly a ten-fold increase over the $137.1 million in sales in 2006. Suboxone currently has the 28th highest retail sales of all prescription drugs in the U.S., up from 198th in 2006. Suboxone sales will likely continue to increase in light of new SAMHSA regulations allowing Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) to dispense a multiple days’ supply of take-home buprenorphine, to eligible patients without having to adhere to previous length of time in treatment requirements. The steady and rapid increase in Suboxone sales suggests that the drug is being widely adopted in the treatment of opioid dependence, likely because of its effectiveness and because it can be prescribed in both private physicians’ offices and OTPs. 

While increased availability means that more opioid dependent persons are being treated, it is also likely that diversion and nonmedical use will increase. Prior issues of the CESAR FAX have indicated that buprenorphine is being diverted for use by those who do not have a prescription and that there has been an increase in the health-related consequences of nonmedical use of buprenorphine. Furthermore, a recent State of Florida medical examiner report found that the number of buprenorphine-related deaths had increased from 6 in 2009 to 27 in 2011 (compared to 62 heroin-related deaths in 2011). These figures likely underestimate buprenorphine-related deaths because, unlike heroin, buprenorphine is not systematically tested for by State of Florida medical examiners.

The editors of this report state that the true magnitude and scope of buprenorphine diversion, misuse, and adverse consequences is unknown because current epidemiologic measures do not systematically monitor buprenorphine. Routine drug testing protocols used by workplaces and the criminal justice system may not include buprenorphine. Similarly, buprenorphine-related deaths are not accurately tracked because medical examiners and coroners do not routinely test for the drug. They believe that in order to maximize the effectiveness and legitimacy of buprenorphine as a treatment for opioid dependence, it is essential that adequate systems for monitoring potential diversion, misuse, and adverse consequences be put in place throughout the country. According to the manufacturer, Suboxone “can cause serious life-threatening respiratory depression and death, particularly when taken by the intravenous (IV) route in combination with benzodiazepines or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants.” Failure to adequately assess the potential risks of diversion and misuse could result in serious public health consequences and more limitations on the drug’s use.

SOURCE:  Adapted by CESAR from Drugs.com, Suboxone Sales Data, November 2012. Online at http://www.drugs.com/stats/suboxone (accessed 12/7/12).

  •  CESAR Center for Substance Abuse Research
  • University of Maryland
  • 4321 Hartwick Road, Suite 501
  •  College Park, MD 20740

If you are concerned about your own use of opioid drugs including prescription drugs or heroin or you are concerned about someone you care about and their use of drugs you can contact an addiction psychologist or certified addiction counselor in Philadelphia or your area. – Jeremy Frank Phd CAC

Meet the Author