Pharmacists seek list of methadone addicts


DUBLIN pharmacists have called on the Department of Health to provide a central register of methadone addicts in an attempt to reduce the black market in the heroin substitute in the city.

The chairman of the eastern region of the Irish Pharmaceutical Union, Mr Paddy Byrne, said he believed about half the methadone sold through pharmacies could be finding its way on to the black market through lack of controls. "About 3,000 litres of methadone a month are sold through pharmacies in Dublin," he said. "Of them, about 1,500 are on a medical card and the other 1,500 are not. Why? Most intravenous drug users would have medical cards."

He said it was likely the 1,500 litres sold for cash were "feeding the black market" and warned there was a danger of the market growing as the Government expands its methadone programmes.

Mr Byrne added that a register to which there was easy access was needed to prevent duplication of prescriptions. A treatment card scheme for addicts is being arranged, under which a methadone addict could only be given the drug at the pharmacy which held his or her card.

"Doctors should be able to ring a 1-800 number and give details of their patient to make sure they are not being given methadone at a clinic or by another doctor", he said. "We think GPs should be legally bound to check such a register."