Singapore tightens control of Subutex (buprenorphine hydrochloride)

Monday, August 14, 2006
11 Aug 2006

In a news release, the Singapore Government will impose stringent measures to curb the abuse of Subutex with effect from 14 August 2006.

Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Subutex, will be made a Class A Controlled Drug under the First Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).

Importation, distribution, possession and consumption of Subutex will be an offence unless exempted by the relevant authorities.

MOH will implement a Subutex Voluntary Rehabilitation Programme (SVRP) to help all those currently on Subutex wean off their dependence and to stay free from opiates. Developed by a panel of psychiatrists, SVRP consists of a medical component which would be complemented by counseling, psychosocial therapy and group support by doctors and counselors to prevent relapse. There will be a two-week period (14 - 27 August 2006) for Subutex users to sign up for the SVRP. They can do so through existing doctors managing their opiate dependence. The hotline to call for the SVRP is 6325-8607.

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 basis#1. Between 14 Aug 2006 to 27 Aug 2006, doctors who are currently treating patients who sign up for SVRP would be allowed to continue to prescribe and dispense Subutex to these patients until the day they commence their first SVRP appointment. From Aug 28, except for those who are enrolled in the SVRP, no other patient will have access to Subutex. Anyone caught in possession of Subutex without proper authorization will be prosecuted.

#1. If the clinic is closed during weekends or public holidays, patients will be provided with a private prescription for direct observed treatment with Subutex at designated pharmacies.