Statement of the American Society of Addiction Medicine Consensus Panel on the Use of Buprenorphine in Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Addiction

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Abstract

Objectives:

Opioid addiction affects over 2 million patients in the United States. The advent of buprenorphine and the passage of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act in 2000 have revolutionized the opioid treatment delivery system by granting physicians the ability to administer office-based opioid treatment (OBOT), thereby giving patients greater access to treatment. The purpose of this consensus panel was to synthesize the most current evidence on the use of buprenorphine in the office-based setting and to make recommendations that will enable and allow additional physicians to begin to treat opioid-addicted individuals.

Methods:

Literature published from 2000 to 2009 was searched using the PubMed search engine and yielded over 375 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including some that were published guidelines. These articles were submitted to a consensus panel composed of researchers, educators, and clinicians who are leaders in the field of addiction medicine with specific expertise in the use of OBOT. The panel discussed results and agreed upon consensus recommendations for several facets of OBOT.

Results:

On the basis of the literature review and consensus discussions, the panel developed a series of findings, conclusions, and recommendations regarding the use of buprenorphine in office-based treatment of opioid addiction.

Conclusions:

Therapeutic outcomes for patients who self-select office-based treatment with buprenorphine are essentially comparable to those seen in patients treated with methadone programs. There are few absolute contraindications to the use of buprenorphine, although the experience and skill levels of treating physicians can vary considerably, as can access to the resources needed to treat comorbid medical or psychiatric conditions–-all of which affect outcomes. It is important to conduct a targeted assessment of every patient to confirm that the provider has resources available to meet the patient's needs. Patients should be assessed for a broad array of biopsychosocial needs in addition to opioid use and addiction, and should be treated, referred, or both for help in meeting all their care needs, including medical care, psychiatric care, and social assistance. Current literature demonstrates promising efficacy of buprenorphine, though further research will continue to demonstrate its effectiveness for special populations, such as adolescents, pregnant women, and other vulnerable populations. Since the time of this review, several new studies have provided new data to continue to improve our understanding of the safety and efficacy of buprenorphine for special patient populations.

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