BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI North Country This Week CANTON — The St. Lawrence County Community Services Department is set to save a significant sum of money on Suboxone and Methadone supplies after …
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
CANTON — The St. Lawrence County Community Services Department is set to save a significant sum of money on Suboxone and Methadone supplies after legislators approved signing a contract with Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
According to Director Jay Ulrich, Hikma’s bid came in 30 to 50 percent lower compared to all other previous bids.
The resolution was passed during the County Legislature’s Services Committee meeting held on Nov. 21.
“This is a contract that really is to lock in the prices,” Ulrich said.
Once signed, the contract will ensure the same pricing on Suboxone and Methadone for the duration of the contract.
Legislator Kevin Acres asked Ulrich what the expense per dose has been for Suboxone and Methadone and whether the cost could be recovered through insurance.
According to Ulrich, a single dose of Methadone typically cost somewhere near $8, while Suboxone cost around $30 per dose. Ulrich said funds could be recovered through insurance, with a significant number of patients enrolled in Medicaid and Medicaid Advantage Care programs.
“We’re using our peers to get everyone that’s getting MAT, whether its through the OTP or through regular clinics. So, we were at 100% enrollment in Medicaid and I assume if we’re not there we’re right close to that. We try to run at 100% and have peers work with those individuals to make sure they have Medicaid or Medicaid Advantage Care,” Ulrich said.
As of Friday, Nov. 18 Ulrich said 103 individuals were enrolled in the program that was expected to assist only a fraction of the number.
“We predicted 30 participants or so but we met that in the first month,” Ulrich told legislators.
Despite significantly higher numbers than originally anticipated, Ulrich said the program is going very well and has only experienced a handful of minor hiccups along the way.
“There’s always a few hiccups when you move that many people through the clinic and building but overall it’s gone very smoothly,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich said despite the increased number of individuals seeking treatment, overdoses have almost doubled when compared to 2021.
When asked if a significant number of patients have been transferred from Suboxone to Methadone, Ulrich said he wasn’t sure of the exact number but that it has happened for some individuals.
According to Ulrich, Methadone users are the highest need, with Methadone being the better medication to help individuals “hopefully not become involved in other street drugs.”
Methadone also as a stabilizing affect for high needs individuals.
In total, 55 patients are new to the clinic which was unanticipated as well, Ulrich said.
In some cases some patients were from “off the street” while others were referred from other providers.
Legislator John Burke also asked Ulrich if patients are required to attend counseling while also receiving Methadone of Suboxone treatment.
Though many do, Ulrich said they are not required to attend counseling like those who participate in the services at St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility.
“We would still give them Methadone or Suboxone, even if they don’t take counseling but we have certified peers to assist and to encourage them to participate,” Ulrich said.