Maker of Suboxone ramps up patient support

May 20, 2009
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'Here to Help' program primarily addresses opioid addicts in early recovery
Maker of Suboxone ramps up patient support

Following the principle that opioid addicts need more than a pill to get well, the manufacturer of the partial opioid agonist Suboxone has launched a support program designed to link patients to a variety of medical and psychosocial support resources.

Reckitt Benckiser’s trademarked “Here to Help” campaign will use a combination of direct personal outreach and Web-based services to assist patients in overcoming barriers to treatment and embarking on a course of long-term recovery. The company is inviting addiction counselors to be part of a network of professionals to which the manufacturer will seek to expand patient access.

“We’re not a medical or counseling service,” explains Cheryl Stayton, Reckitt Benckiser’s U.S. manager of quality care. “We’re trying to help create a treatment support system around patients.”

As with other drug manufacturers in the addiction market, the maker of the most widely used form of buprenorphine has had to combat biases against medications in some circles of the treatment community. It has faced additional challenges in the form of a shortage of qualified prescribers in some parts of the country as well as statutory limits on the number of patients each individual prescriber may treat. Debbie Betz, the company’s director of marketing, says one of the key messages that Here to Help will deliver states that medications represent just part of a treatment system that needs to value psychosocial support highly.

Company officials call their new effort a natural evolution from what they have learned in the early years of working with patients and the field to advance treatment. The program will employ care coordinators who can assist persons seeking treatment in getting an appointment with a prescribing physician. Once that has been obtained, patients can receive care coaching that consists of eight outbound calls offering patients a variety of assistance, from tips for talking to their doctor to ways to improve family relations. The calls occur over what the company considers to be the critical first 12 weeks of treatment.

Finally, a Web site (www.HeretoHelpProgram.com) provides a number of resources, including an e-mail support program and downloadable patient support tools. All of the services in Here to Help are offered free of charge to patients.

“This is a bit more geared to people who are new to treatment,” says Stayton. “We recognize that some people will have difficulty. We will offer personalized guidance through the first 12 weeks.”

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