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Study of Extended-Release Buprenorphine Yields Diverse Benefits

April 03, 2020

Results of a study suggest that extended treatment with buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) improves the likelihood of sustained abstinence and also enhances patient quality-of-life outcomes.

Published last month in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the study of patients with moderate to severe OUD examined participant outcomes one year after receiving up to 12 months of the extended-release injectable formulation of buprenorphine (brand name Sublocade). Patients receiving 12 months of treatment, when compared with those receiving less than two months of the medication, had a significantly higher likelihood of sustained opioid abstinence 12 months post-treatment (75.3% vs. 24.1%).

Moreover, quality-of-life outcomes such as employment rates saw significant improvement over the course of the Remission from Chronic Opioid Use—Studying Environmental and Socio-Economic Factors on Recovery, or RECOVER, study. Only around 10% of study participants reported receiving counseling as part of their treatment.

“These findings show that long-term treatment may positively assist patients in focusing on their recovery, including re-engaging with family, friends and community,” Walter Ling, MD, lead study author and research professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a news release from Indivior, maker of Sublocade.

There has been significant research evidence supporting medication treatment's short-term benefits for patients with OUD, but comparatively little research on patient recovery following OUD medication treatment. This study tracked patient outcomes following patients' transition from two Phase 3 trials of Sublocade: a six-month open-label safety study and an optional open-label extension study.

The study measured self-reported past-week abstinence at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months post-treatment, as well as sustained abstinence over 12 months. A total of 425 of 533 enrolled participants completed the 12-month visit, and 50.8% of those individuals reported sustained 12-month abstinence.

The researchers pointed out that while the results were based on patient self-report, they also were in line with results of urine drug screens that were conducted during the study.

Sublocade, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017, is indicated for treatment of OUD in patients who have initiated treatment with a transmucosal product containing buprenorphine.


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