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In-Office Provision of Buprenorphine Ups Retention Rates for OUD Patients in Study

February 11, 2021

A study conducted by Cordant Health Solutions and Northwest Integrated Health in Tacoma, Washington, found that opioid use disorder patients who had been prescribed buprenorphine demonstrated higher rates of retention and improved health outcomes when they could receive their medication at office visits and no longer needed to fill such prescriptions at pharmacies.

Results of the study were published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

A total of 154 patients who were within the first three months of treatment served as the in-office managed pharmacy program group whose buprenorphine prescriptions were filled by pharmacies and delivered to their treatment clinics, to be received by patients at office appointments.

Compared with a control group of previous patients who had obtained their prescribed buprenorphine at retail pharmacies, the study group demonstrated:

  • 52% higher retention in treatment after six months
  • 46% fewer positive screenings for opioids
  • 41% fewer drug-related emergency department visits

“Historically, the concept of access to treatment for OUD primarily focused on a patient's access to a provider who can treat and prescribe without considering obstacles to receiving the medication itself from retail pharmacies,” Asif Khan, MD, SAP, FASAM, CEO and chairman of NWIH and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

“Barriers like transportation can be challenging for this patient group, so to ask them to go to another location after their clinic visit adds an additional hurdle they have to overcome. Then they need to find a pharmacy that regularly stocks addiction treatment medication and doesn't treat them like a drug addict. Unfortunately, this poses a real threat to their sobriety, and that's why I believe these study outcomes are so meaningful.”

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