IRIN Examines Administration Of Methadone As Treatment For People Who Inject Drugs In Bangladesh

“Methadone treatment is proving to be the most efficient way to wean people in Bangladesh from addiction to buprenorphine, a pharmaceutical drug, and health experts say it should be expanded to reach thousands more drug users to prevent the spread of HIV,” IRIN reports. The news service notes that “illegal use of pharmaceutical substances, mostly buprenorphine, is on the rise” in the country. “Buprenorphine was intended to be used to wean injecting drug users, also known as people who inject drugs (PWID), from narcotics like heroin, but has itself become a substance of addiction, with users injecting a liquid form of it,” the news service notes, adding, “Methadone, a pain reliever, suppresses withdrawal symptoms and blocks craving.”

However, “the medical use of methadone remains controversial, as over the long term some users simply substitute another addiction for the drug dependency that is being treated,” IRIN writes, adding, “Bangladesh’s 1990 Narcotics Control Act outlaws methadone, except in approved cases of medical and scientific research.” According to the news service, the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddr, b), the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), and the National AIDS/STD Programme “opened the first methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clinic in Dhaka in July 2010, with support from [the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)],” and “[f]unding by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will allow a second MMT clinic to open in Dhaka in the coming months, with two more to follow in the next three years” (8/8).

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