Friday, January 24, 2020

Buprenorphine Use for Treating OUD Rising, Except in Youth

The rate of buprenorphine use to treat opioid use disorder more than doubled between 2009 and 2018, according to a study in JAMA. However, this trend did not hold true for patients aged 15 to 24 years, in whom buprenorphine use declined.

Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., of Columbia University and colleagues analyzed data from the IQVIA Real World Data: Longitudinal Prescription database to determine the number of buprenorphine prescriptions filled by people aged 15 to 80 years old between 2009 and 2018, excluding formulations that were not approved for treating opioid use disorder. The researchers defined a new episode of buprenorphine use as a prescription fill that took place at least 180 days after the last buprenorphine fill. The episode of buprenorphine use ended 30 days after a prescription fill ended and the patient did not obtain a refill or new prescription.

The annual rate of buprenorphine use episodes increased from 1.97 per 1,000 people in 2009 to 4.43 per 1,000 in 2018. The largest increase occurred in adults aged 35 to 44 years, from 2.41 episodes of use to 8.34 episodes of use per 1,000 people. However, buprenorphine use decreased in patients aged 15 to 24 years, from 1.76 to 1.40 episodes per year per 1,000 people. Patients in this age group who received buprenorphine prescriptions were also more likely to receive prescriptions for doses lower than the recommended dose of 16 mg/dl, and less likely to maintain their prescriptions for 180 days or more.

The “[f]indings suggest a widening treatment gap for young people and underscore the importance of improving buprenorphine treatment services for this age group,” the researchers wrote. They added that these changes took place during a period when young people had increasing rates of opioid-related overdose deaths.

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Most Youth With OUD Who Need Medication Treatment Do Not Receive It.”

(Image: iStock/Delmaine Donson)

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