The Impact of Buprenorphine on Treatment of Opioid Dependence in a Medicaid Population
Recent Service Utilization Trends in the Use of Buprenorphine and Methadone
Published in: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, v. 123, no. 1-3, June 2012, p. 72-78
BACKGROUND: Buprenorphine provides an important option for individuals with opioid dependence who are unwilling or unable to attend a licensed methadone opioid agonist treatment program to receive opioid agonist therapy (OAT). Little empirical information is available, however, about the extent to which buprenorphine has increased the percentage of opioid dependent individuals receiving OAT, nor to what extent buprenorphine is being used in office based settings. METHODS: Using administrative data from the largest Medicaid managed behavioral health organization in a large mid-Atlantic state, we used multivariate regression to examine rates and predictors of opioid agonist use and treatment setting for 14,386 new opioid dependence treatment episodes during 2007–2009. RESULTS: Despite an increase in the use of buprenorphine, the percentage of new treatment episodes involving OAT is unchanged due to a decrease in the percentage of episodes involving methadone. Use of buprenorphine was significantly more common in rural communities, and 64% of buprenorphine use was in office-based settings. CONCLUSION: Buprenorphine use has increased in recent years, with the greatest use in rural communities and in office based settings. However, the percentage of new opioid dependence treatment episodes involving an opioid agonist is unchanged, suggesting the need for further efforts to increase buprenorphine use among urban populations.