Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Patients Denied Organ Transplants for Taking Prescribed Methadone

Previously we've commented on the absurd practice of the criminal justice system demanding methadone patients on probation or parole, or seeking to participate in drug court, discontinue taking their prescribed medication or go to jail. Sadly, the same irrational demand to stop effective treatment is made by some organ transplant programs, that refuse to even consider a potential recipient until s/he has been detoxified for at least six months. This despite the fact that several papers have been written and published in peer-reviewed journals indicating transplant success rates that are essentially the same for methadone maintained patients and those with no history of any drug use. Go figure... !


At 8:51 PM, Blogger Me said...

I can't help but notice that these last two postings have inspired no comments when the others have gotten reactions far above the average. I can only assume that we are speachless in the face of such injustice.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger RGNewman, MD said...

I´m delighted to hear the view that judges and drug courts should not meddle with medical treatment - specifically, treatment involving methadone maintenance. And yet, it seems to be not just occasional phenomenon, but almost universal. It is the common practice of judges and prosecutors. They decree whether methadone precludes participation in drug court, and if so, at what dose, for how long. Seems to me the opposition to this near universal policy would most effectively come from the drug court professionals themselves. Incidentally, the same practicing medicine without a license applies to probation and parole officers from one coast to the other. Suggestions on how to deal with all this will be welcome.

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 12:33 AM, Blogger Professor Bentley said...

Why don't they just line us all up and shoot us? Have done with it. A Drug Free America!

At 9:20 AM, Blogger kittykat316 said...

This information about methodone and tranplant treatment is just a disgrace. Who do these experts think need the liver transplants must of all IV drug user's, yes we might have did some bad things in out past but why should we be penalized for it, I want to live just as badly as the next person. I want to know on what basis should I be denied a new liver if I no longer use street drugs.I'm on the methodone clinic I have three children and work and I'm currently enrolled in community college. What I'm trying to say is that I am ready to live and I have suffered enough with my addiction and all. I've came a long way and now I might be told tat I cannot have a liver why not? I feel that I deserve to live just as badly as the person who isn't on methodone I'm sure some them take some type of medication but the point is that MY LIFE IS JUST AS IMPORTANT TO ME NOW IF NOT EVEN MORE SO I'VE LEARNED FROM MY MISTAKES AND SHOULD'NT I BE GIVEN A CHANCE AT LIFE ALSO.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger RGNewman, MD said...

Yes KittyKat316,
The system is maddening, I agree. In case you or others you know are in the position of being refused consideration for liver transplantation
based on current methadone maintenance treatment, there are three references that would be helpful (basically, they refute the assumption that methadone maintained patients are not "good candidates" for transplant"). These are

If you need any of these faxed to you just let us know. Good luck and tell us how we might be of help. RGN

Weinrieb RM, Barnett R, Lynch KG, DePiano M, Atanda A
and Olthoff KM. A Matched Comparison Study of Medical
and Psychiatric Complications and Anesthesia and Analgesia Requirements in Methadone-Maintained Liver Transplant Recipients. Liver Transpl, Vol 10 No 1(January),2004: pp97-106

Liu L, Schlano T, Lau N, O'Rourke M, Min A, Sigal S, Drooker M, Bodenheimer Jr H. Survival and Risk of Recidivism in Methadone-Dependent Patients Undergoing Liver Transplantation. Am J Transplant 3(10), 2003:1273-1277.

Koch M, Banys P. Liver transplantation and opioid dependence. JAMA 2001;285:1056-1058


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