Methadone treatment in primary care

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 20, 2005

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Providing methadone treatment in a primary care setting is feasible and can result in healthy outcomes for patients addicted to heroin who are on methadone, according to a new study.

"Getting the necessary regulatory approvals to provide methadone in a primary care setting can be a complex task, but it can result in better medical care for patients who are in stable recovery from heroin addiction and are already in a treatment program," said Joseph Merrill, MD, MPH, lead author of the study in the May Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Dr. Merrill, an internist at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, ran a program for 30 patients and was able to retain 28 after one year. Patients received methadone three times a week initially and were recalled for random urine tests.

Primary care facilities can help patients recover from their addiction while also providing treatment for other health problems, the study said. The program was the first to receive approval to treat heroin addiction outside a community opioid treatment program through a formal regulatory process, study authors said. The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Washington State's Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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