SAN FRANCISCO: Pushes Doctor-Based Methadone Program
San Francisco may become the first city in the nation to "make methadone treatment for heroin addicts widely available," if public health officials get their way, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The plan, spearheaded by Supervisor Gavin Newsom, would permit doctors to prescribe methadone through the city's health department, making the treatment more convenient for heroin addicts. The department would provide the doctors with training and assist them through the "inevitable" regulatory inspections, since the proposal would require federal and state approval. Opponents contend, however, that the plan lacks an "institutionalized framework" to ensure the program's success. Deputy health director Barbara Garcia said that the city's methadone program has a large waiting list and under the current system, it would cost $4-$8 million to treat them. The Examiner reports that only 2,000 of San Francisco's nearly 15,000 heroin users are currently enrolled in a methadone program. Garcia added that federal officials must give the program a green light, but that she is "optimistic and hopes to see the program running within a year" (Gordon, 8/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.