Pubdate: Sat, 20 Mar 2004
Source: Register-Herald, The (Beckley, WV)
Copyright: 2004 The Register-Herald
Author: Dann White


Prior to the opening of West Virginia's first methadone maintenance
clinic in Charleston three years ago, that city was gripped by a
burgeoning trade in heroin and OxyContin. Treatment options were
abysmal and local officials were at a loss for what to do.

An Indiana company, seeing the potential for its product, came to town
and persisted in efforts to open a clinic ...

The first clinic opened in January 2001 just outside the capital city.
Overnight the heroin and OxyContin markets collapsed, not just in
Charleston but in outlying communities as well. Within two years there
were seven clinics statewide.

Part of the reason for this success was a set of federal MMT
regulations that were enacted in 2001, bringing the best that MMT has
to offer to clinics around the country. These regulations cover all
areas of operation, including drug-testing of patients and strict
controls on take-home medication.

Now a Mercer County physician, cheered on by his colleagues who own
and operate a Mercer treatment program with no methadone program, want
the state to get in the business of telling clinics how they should
operate. They have thrown around rhetoric about for-profit owners and
patients selling methadone hoping to strike fear about this exciting
new (to West Virginia) treatment in the hearts of West Virginians.

The delegate doctor and his fellow detractors are, of course, for
profit entities themselves and their logic seems to ignore the fact
that MMT has brought a movement of addicts into treatment at their own
expense at a time when public dollars for these purposes are hard to

West Virginians should oppose House Bill 4387 and tell the Legislature
to stop trying to fix what is not broken.

Dann White


Jumping Branch

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