A P.E.I. doctor who treats people with addictions is urging government to pay for an alternative to methadone.

Dr. Don Ling told CBC News Suboxone can be a more effective treatment, particularly when used by young adults. Cost is also an issue.


Suboxone coverage on P.E.I. is in line with other provinces, says the Department of Health. (Reuters)

"Methodone's expensive enough, but Suboxone will cost on average about $20 a day; it's over twice as much," said Ling.

"If you don't have provincial coverage, for many of these patients, they really can't consider that type of treatment."

The government does provide coverage for Suboxone under particular circumstances, if, for example, patients have a condition which would make methadone more risky, such as a heart condition. In 2012-13, five patients were approved and received Suboxone.

Ling said that means most of the patients he'd like to prescribe Suboxone for would have to pay for it themselves, but they can't afford it.

The youth addictions program on P.E.I., known as the Strength Program, could be that much more effective if it had a medical component using Soboxone to prevent young people from relapsing, said Ling.

The Department of Health says P.E.I.'s limited coverage of Suboxone is in line with other provinces. It notes the Common Drug Review, an independent agency funded by federal and provincial governments, states Suboxone is not as effective as methodone, but that the drug is continually under review.