VT Committee Approves Bill Decriminalizing Opioid Dependency Drug - NECN
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VT Committee Approves Bill Decriminalizing Opioid Dependency Drug

The drug is commonly known as Suboxone.

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    VT Committee Approves Bill Decriminalizing Opioid Dependency Drug
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    BURLINGTON, VT - FEBRUARY 05: Tyler, 22, who recently got out of a rehab program for heroin addiction, shows his prescription for Suboxone, a maintenance treatment for opioid dependence, on February 5, 2014 in Burlington, Vermont. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increasingly expensive and regulated, more and more Americans are turning to heroin to fight pain or to get high. Heroin, which has experienced a surge in production in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Central America, has a relatively inexpensive street price and provides a more powerful affect on the user. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    The Vermont House Judiciary Committee has approved legislation decriminalizing possession of the opioid use disorder treatment drug buprenorphine.

    Department of Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson tells Vermont Public Radio he supports the use of buprenorphine, also known by the brand name Suboxone, as long as it's part of a doctor-supervised treatment program.

    He says it is still a "dangerous drug" that can lead to physical dependence.

    Burlington Police Chief Brandon Del Pozo says his department stopped making arrests for misdemeanor possession of buprenorphine nine months ago.

    He says overdose deaths in Chittenden County decreased 50 percent last year, and access to buprenorphine is helping mitigate what he calls a "public health crisis."

    The decriminalization bill needs approval from the Health Care Committee before getting a full House vote.

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