It was a Friday afternoon, and a young man — the doctor called him “J” — needed help. J was addicted to heroin. The doctor, Mike Kalfas, had treated him several times before with buprenorphine, a drug that blocks opioid cravings and is part of a class of drugs most successful in keeping patients in recovery.
J had recently gotten out of jail on a drug-related charge, Kalfas said. There, he’d had to stop using buprenorphine because it wasn’t available.
“I wrote him the prescription, and it’s 5:30 p.m. on a Friday when he left my office,” Kalfas told Kentucky lawmakers earlier this month. “About 6:30 p.m. the paper comes over the fax machine, denying his medication.”