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January 19, 2005

Diversion and Abuse of Methadone Prescribed for Pain Management

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(3):293-298. doi:10.1001/jama.293.3.297

To the Editor: In late 2003-2004, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the General Accounting Office, and several state authorities reported that diversion and abuse of methadone was emerging as a major problem in a number of metropolitan areas across the United States.14 In some states, it was asserted that methadone had surpassed controlled-release oxycodone as the most widely diverted and abused drug, an assertion reinforced by newspaper accounts.15 This increase in reported methadone abuse was attributed to the increase in licit and illicit exposure to methadone resulting from its inappropriate use as a safer alternative to drugs with greater potential for abuse. To examine the accuracy of these reports, we quantified information from an abuse and diversion surveillance system.