By SHEYAHSHE LITTLEDAVE
CHEROKEE INDIAN HOSPITAL
Monday, Aug. 29 started a new chapter for the Cherokee Indian Hospital as it went live with a service aimed at providing patients, with prescriptions, an opportunity to purchase Suboxone through its own pharmacy. This is in large part due to community concerns of affordability once a patient completes the 90-day Suboxone treatment program.
After the initial 90 days, it will be up to the patient to continue their treatment by taking financial responsibility in their recovery. The idea is to give a more reasonably-priced option within CIHA compared to other pharmacies and quell fears of Suboxone being purchased/sold illegally.
According to Jason White, acting CIHA Chief Pharmacist, the pharmacy can work more closely with CIHA providers on better regulations on how patients are picking up and using Suboxone. “The pharmacy will only sell/dispense Suboxone to patients with a legal prescription from CIHA,” he said. “Patients will also be required to have a legal tribal or government-issued ID when picking up the medication.”
Along with stricter regulations on purchasing Suboxone, patients will find a cost of at least 2.5 times less than at an outside pharmacy.
Per White, the rules to the CIHA Suboxone Self-Pay Program are as follows:
- There is a minimum purchase of a seven-day supply and a maximum of 28 days.
- No partial prescriptions can be dispensed.
- CIHA Pharmacy can bill insurance and will charge a co-pay fee in place of the cash price of the medication if the patient has insurance.
- Sales can only occur during CIHA pharmacy hours
- Monday -Tuesday, Thursday – Friday 8am-5:30pm
- Wednesday 9am-5:30pm
- Patients must pick up their prescriptions in person and provide the appropriate identification at the time of purchase.
- Patients must make their appointments with their provider and/or clinic and must honor all requests for lab draws including drug screens.
- Patients must also honor requests for random strip counts.
Suboxone has been widely controversial since it was popularized as a medication used to treat opioid dependence. It is taken by placing a film strip underneath tongue or inside cheek until it dissolves.
“The reality is that it is nearly impossible to just stop cold turkey,” said Dr. Mary Ann Farrell, CIHA Outpatient Clinical Director. “Suboxone is a drug, but it is a safer drug alternative.”
Dr. Farrell states that while people are concerned about replacing one drug with another, it is important to know that Cherokee Indian Hospital does have a state-of-the-art program for addiction that combines both medical care and mental health care.
CIHA works with Analensgi, a behavioral health and recovery center, in order to provide treatment plans that include group/individual therapy.
Any patient interested in the Suboxone treatment program should contact Analensgi 497-6892, or if they need to switch from an outside pharmacy they must contact their CIHA provider.