The main characteristics of opioid replacement therapy in France are: 1) the large number of patients, almost 100,000 ; 2) the use of high-dose buprenorphine ; 3) about eight out of ten patients are treated by GPs. The development of opioid replacement therapy is both very recent (1995, Marketing Authorisation) and very rapid. Although cases of misuse have been observed (injection, resale on the black market), a national evaluation showed that development of these treat- ments has been accompanied by an improvement of health and social integration (80 % reduction of fatal overdoses, reduction of syringe sharing, 67% reduction of arrests for heroin use between 1994 and 1999 – see INVS, 2001). These good results are due to a large access to care and Good Clinical Practice by a majority of practitioners. On the basis of follow- up studies, about two-thirds of patients obtain a benefit from these treatments. An improvement of current results would require adaptation of the management of poorly stabilized patients, with a broader access to care, including easier access to methadone. Erratic practices must be controlled by publi- shing good clinical practice guidelines, training of practitioners and improvement of the quality of the relationship with patients.
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