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Trusts ordered to use oral methadone

The Government has told every PCT to make oral methadone available for treating drug misusers following guidance that concludes it is highly effective.

The National Treatment Agency, a special health authority set up last year, said higher doses of oral meth-adone were better than lower doses at retaining patients in treatment and optimising outcomes.

Existing Department of Health guidelines suggest an average maintenance dose of between 60-120mg daily.

The agency will produce separate guidance on injectable heroin within the next few months to take account of new evidence.

Dr Jenny Keen, co-author of the guidelines and clinical director at North Sheffield PCT, said: 'The evidence also suggests enforced reduction in dosage is ineffective and that methadone prescribing is probably more effective when accompanied by other treatment such as structured counselling.'

GPs would be able to opt to treat drug misusers under the national enhanced services section of the new contract.

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