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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 4 August 2006

Subutex to be classified as a controlled drug


Speech by Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Minister for Health at Beritan Harian Achiever of the Year Award 03 Aug 2006
An Excerpt
The introduction of Subutex is a classic example of good intention that has led to unintended detrimental outcome.
In 2000, the decision was made for it to be introduced in Singapore to help the heroin addicts.
It was a well meaning decision with the interests of the heroin addicts at heart. But the good intention has unfortunately yielded opposite and unexpected results.
While some heroin addicts appeared to have benefited from Subutex, many others seem to have merely shifted their addiction from heroin to Subutex.
In addition, many more who have never tried drugs before have become new addicts. Within 4 years of introduction, we now have at least 3800 Subutex users, 45% of them Malay, 43% Chinese and 10% Indian.
What is worse, a "needle injection culture" which is common among drug addicts in many other countries but never part of our drug addiction scene, has now emerged in Singapore.
This is particularly worrying because needle injection significantly raises the risks of spreading infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C among our people.
Discarded needles can also fall into the hands of the unwary such as children at playgrounds exposing them to unnecessary risks. Moreover, intravenous injections of Subutex, especially when combined with other drugs, can be deadly.
The problem continues to grow, despite various restrictive measures put in by the Government last year. The status quo is not an acceptable option.
Let us tackle this problem fundamentally and nip it before it becomes unmanageable.
We have two priorities. First, prevent new abusers to this drug. Second, help the current abusers wean off this drug.
Together with the Ministry of Home Affairs, we are finalizing a robust set of measures.
We are proposing to classify buprenorphine as a Controlled Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, making the illegal import, distribution, possession and consumption of buprenorphine an offence.
And we will go all out to help the abusers wean off the drug and to lead a drug-free life. A rehabilitation programme is being set up. It would be supervised by a panel of psychiatrists.
We will announce the implementation details next week.
It is not easy but it is possible for opiate users to be drug free. They will require the active support of their family, their friends and the community at large. These are fellow Singaporeans; let's help them re-integrate into society and lead a drug-free life...

Full Text of Speech

Source: News Release 3 Aug 2006

Related Articles:
- Update On Subutex Voluntary Rehabilitation Programme


Subutex a Class A Controlled Drug from 14 Aug 2006

"From 14 August 2006, doctors will not be permitted to prescribe and dispense any take-home dosages for existing patients.

"All patients who require Subutex will have to consume their medication under direct visual observation of the pharmacist, doctor and/or his treatment team on a daily basis1 ..."



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