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Simojoki K, Alho H. 
“A Five-Year Follow-up of Buprenorphine Abuse Potential”. 
J Alcoholism Drug Depend. 2013;1(111).

BACKGROUND: Mono-buprenorphine has been the most abused intravenous opioid in Finland since 2001. A buprenorphine/naloxone combination drug intended to lower the risk of abuse became already available in Finland in 2004. In 2008 the mono-buprenorphine product was placed under special license (for pregnancy only). The availability of both drug preparations provides an opportunity to assess the extent to which the two products are abused and street priced. The main aim of this study was to evaluate five-year trends of abuse pattern, dosage and street price of illicit opioid abuse in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

METHODS: A questionnaire consisting of multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions was distributed to all attendees at all the 10 harm reduction (needle exchange) units in the Helsinki area over 2-week periods from 2005-2008 and in 2010.

RESULTS: In 2007, 60.2% of the respondents claimed heroin or morphine as their first injected drug. This percentage had declined to 51.3% in 2010, but in contrast the incidence of buprenorphine as the first injected or abused drug by the study population increased from 30.5% (2007) to 44.4% (2010). Among all drugs mono-buprenorphine was the most frequently used primary illicit drug (68.2-77%), followed by amphetamine. In 2005, the street price of buprenorphine/naloxone was 50% lower than that of mono-buprenorphine and this price difference has remained constant during the evaluation period. The respondents bought their buprenorphine from several sources, primarily street dealers, but they also received/bought buprenorphine/naloxone from patients in maintenance treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Buprenorphine is still the most commonly used illicit opioid in Finland. Restrictions on the access of mono-buprenorphine and the lower street price of buprenorphine/naloxone did not significantly alter the illicit use of this drug over several years of its availability on the street.

Buprenorphine; Naloxone; Opioids; Intravenous; Polysubstance abuse
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