Can you tell me what methadone is and how it differs from other narcotics? Why is it that only specialists can prescribe it?
Methadone is a drug in the opiate class, which includes heroin, morphine and codeine. It is a powerful, long-acting narcotic analgesic (pain reliever). Because its duration of action is 36 to 48 hours, and because it is taken as a tablet, this substance has proven to be very useful in treating opiate addicts, both for short-term and long-term detoxification. Until recently, this product was used almost exclusively to treat drug addicts, and only certain doctors specializing in drug addiction could prescribe it. However, in late June 2004, the Régie de l’assurance-maladie du Québec announced that it was adding Metadol (trade name for methadone) to the list of exception drugs for the treatment of cancer pain and chronic pain. Like the other exception drugs, Metadol is authorized only when the usual treatments fail.