🧵 #Overdose deaths hit record highs last year. Medications like buprenorphine cut the risk of death in half. But many pharmacies don’t provide it, saying they fear a @DEAHQ investigation -- like what happened to Martin Njoku. My latest for @NPR @KHNews buff.ly/3H5FQhK
2/ As a pharmacist, Martin Njoku wanted to help those hit by the #opioidepidemic. But a few years after he began providing medications for #addiction, @DEAHQ raided his pharmacy & accused him of furthering the very ailment he set out to treat.
3/ DEA pointed to "red flags" at Njoku's pharmacy: ppl getting Subutex—considered easier to abuse than Suboxone— ppl driving from far away, paying in cash, etc. But @Formanir @hfdrlaw explained that's what happens when Suboxone is too expensive & access to treatment is scarce.
4/ Two judges agreed and ruled in Njoku’s favor. But it was too late. Several insurers & suppliers already stopped doing business with him. Njoku closed the pharmacy in April. And other pharmacists took notice.
5/ “Pharmacies are terrified they’re going to lose their DEA registration and go out of business,” said Charles “Buck” Selby, a former inspector and chief compliance officer for the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
6/ And it’s not just West Virginia. Across the U.S., 1 in 5 pharmacies does not provide buprenorphine, per research by @landgrantdan and others @OHSUNews @OregonState @OSUPharmacy pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33932744/
@landgrantdan @OHSUNews @OregonState @OSUPharmacy 7/ Research in North Carolina and Kentucky has found that many #pharmacies worry ordering more buprenorphine will trigger a @DEAHQ investigation. @BaylaOstrach @LeshaCarpenter @lpcote @EmoryRollins @UK_COP
8/ That creates a “prescribing cliff,” said @BaylaOstrach, a researcher in western North Carolina. Even if more doctors prescribe buprenorphine to more patients, if patients can't find a pharmacy to fill their prescription, they can't get life-saving #addiction #treatment.
@BaylaOstrach 9/ James in Florida told me, “I’ve been in 10 rehabs and a million detoxes, and the only thing that has worked for me was one sublingual tablet.” It’s helped him stop using drugs for 10 years. He says everyone should have that chance.
@BaylaOstrach 10/ Read my full @NPR @KHNews @NPRHealth story here. Thank you to @Formanir @hfdrlaw @MAHECwnc @ProjectOpioid @Gatordoc @BaylaOstrach @lpcote & many others for your help telling this story.

/end thread/


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