The devastating effects of the Russian 'ban on methadone' are being felt in Crimea, with as many as 20 former Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) patients having died since its implementation.
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According to a report from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), not only have up to 20 former patients died, countless others are suffering from untreated diseases such as HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis, while others still are trying to flee the area in a desperate bid to find the treatment elsewhere.
"The deaths of tens of people were identified in a report by an internal mission of the European Commission at the end of May," said Pavlo Skala, of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine. "We are talking of, at least, 20 patients."
They were among hundreds of opiate addicts in Crimea who were cut off from treatment when Methadone Maintenance was banned with Russia's annexation of the region.
"Nearly 700 people have been taken off replacement therapy and about 60 at being treated in health-care facilities" said Sergei Donich, a former regional health minister and current deputy prime minister in the region's de facto government.
While area activists firmly stand by methadone's effectiveness, Russian authorities continue to deny it has any efficacy, with the De Facto Crimean Prime Minister Donich explaining that "the money and interests of pharmaceutical firms stand behind it."
Donich also denies that anyone has died as a result of the methadone ban, and insisted that that those who are suffering from other diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis, are receiving "proper medical care."
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