Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 371 - Drug treatment programmes [5593/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 371 - Drug treatment programmes [5593/17]. (07 Feb 2017)

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371. Deputy Jack Chambers  asked the Minister for Health the status of the phased introduction of buprenorphine, nalaxone or alternatively known as suboxone; when he expects funding to be made available for this phased roll out as outlined in budget 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5593/17]


Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne):  Suboxone is authorised as a substitution treatment for opioid drug dependence, within a framework of medical, social and psychological treatment. It is currently being provided to a cohort of patients involved in the pilot and feasibility study for Suboxone.


If the provision of Suboxone is to be given the same statutory basis as methadone, in order to ensure its safe, appropriate and cost-effective use, an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs (Supervision of Prescription and Supply of Methadone) Regulations 1998 will be necessary.


The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act 2015 was enacted as emergency legislation in March 2015 following a Court of Appeal decision on a constitutional challenge to section 2(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. The 2015 Act reconfirmed the existing ministerial regulations and orders made under the 1977 Act, including the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988 and the 1998 Methadone Regulations. As a result, these Regulations may only now be amended by primary legislation.


The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act 2016 was passed by the Oireachtas on the 27 July 2016. The primary purpose of the 2016 Act is to protect public health by bringing certain substances which are open to misuse and known to be traded on the illicit market under the scope of the Misuse of Drugs legislation. Controlling the substances in the Act was part one of a two-step process and Regulations and various Orders are also required to allow legitimate users (e.g. patients with a prescription, health professionals) to possess the substances. Work on drafting the regulations has been complex and technical in nature but is at an advanced stage of preparation. It is expected that various sections of the 2016 Act can be commenced in the coming weeks when the drafting of the various Regulations and Orders is complete.


When this process has been completed, it will pave the way for the HSE to commence the phased roll out outlined in Budget 2017.


An additional €3 million in funding has been allocated to the HSE this year for addiction services. The increased budget includes funding for the roll out of Suboxone, the pilot supervised injection facility, more detox places and improved access to under-18 treatment services

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