Medical professionals get training to prescribe opioid addiction treatment drug Suboxone

Correction: A prior version of this story misstated the enrollment of Saturday's session. WCPO regrets this error.

CINCINNATI -- Medical professionals got training Saturday to make opioid addiction treatment more accessible for those who need it.

Demand is high for medication-assisted treatment. But, according to the Ohio Department of Health, just 2 percent of Ohio doctors are able to prescribe addiction treatment drug buprenorphine, the main ingredient in Suboxone.

As a result, addicts desperate to get off heroin can be forced into buying it on the black market. Or they have to spend months on wait lists, a delay that can mean the difference between life and death.

Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration took action on a bill from Sen. Sherrod Brown. The change means that not just doctors, but also qualified nurses and physician assistants, can prescribe the medicine. 

About 200 medical professionals have gotten the training. And more training means more people can be involved in curbing the opioid epidemic.

"This will enable your primary care physician, for example, if he or she would like to prescribe this medication, to help you. It makes it more likely that folks will seek treatment to go somewhere familiar and meet with someone familiar that they already have a relationship with. So it's very, very important for the patients," said Brian Gray, Mercy Health's director of business development.

The federal government has given Ohio $26 million for training. Another 47 training sessions are planned throughout the state.

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