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    Opioid patients lack access to treatment

    There is a growing need for improved access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) among patients with opioid use disorder (OUD).

    In a new study presented at the American Society of Addiction Medicine 47th Annual Conference in Baltimore, Indivior Inc. found significant underutilization of treatment methods for OUD patients.

    Related:  CDC issues opioid prescribing guidelines

    As one of the largest studies of this kind, researchers found that post-diagnosis, nearly one-third (31.6%) of patients were receiving no opioid dependence treatment. Further, less than half (42.8%) of patients were prescribed MAT, with buprenorphine/naloxone being the most commonly prescribed (34.4% of the overall OUD patients).

    “The study revealed that almost one-quarter (24.3%) of patients diagnosed with OUD received a recommended method of treatment, both MAT and psychosocial care, reaffirming my observations in clinical practice that treatment access continues to be an issue,” said Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD, with Aventura Family Health Center. “I’m optimistic that, with continued research and community support, we can work together to help ensure MAT is accessible to appropriate patients, when and where they need it, and psychosocial care is provided to help support them in their journey.” 

    Related: FDA requires warning on opioids

    Researchers analyzed administrative claims from the Truven Health MarketScan Commercial Database among 103,768 commercially-insured patients with OUD between 2008 and 2014, with a mean duration of follow up of 702 days.

    The researchers also found that the pre-treatment study population had higher rates of pain-related conditions (chronic pain: 48.6%, narcotic pain medications: 53.1%) and psychiatric comorbidities (depressive disorders: 24%, prescriptions of antidepressants: 42.7%).

    Despite the lack of inpatient care, a majority of patients received OUD-related care in the outpatient setting. Of these, almost one-quarter of patients (22.9%) visited a psychiatrist and almost one-third (31.1%) visited a primary care physician.

    The researchers recommend additional studies to better understand factors impacting the way patients receive and access treatment. “Identifying these factors may help strengthen future community-based programs to address existing treatment gaps in clinical settings,” Indivor said.

    Read more: FDA makes sweeping changes for opioids

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.


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