Patterns of Buprenorphine-Naloxone Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in a Multistate Population

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Buprenorphine-naloxone treatment for opioid use disorder has rapidly expanded, yet little is known about treatment outcomes among patients in the general population.


To examine predictors of treatment duration, dosage, and continuity in a diverse community setting.

Research Design:

We examined QuintilesIMS Real World Data, an all-payer, pharmacy claims database, to conduct an analysis of individuals age 18 years and above initiating buprenorphine-naloxone treatment between January 2010 and July 2012 in 11 states. We used logistic regression to assess treatment duration longer than 6 months. We used accelerated failure time models to assess risk of treatment discontinuation. We used ordinary least squares regression to assess mean daily dosage. For patients with ≥3 fills, we also used logistic regression to assess whether ;an individual had a medication possession ratio of <80% and/or gaps in treatment >14 days. Models adjusted for individual demographics, prescribing physician specialty, state, and county-level variables.


Overall, 41% of individuals were retained in treatment for at least 6 months and the mean treatment length was 266 days. Compared with individuals who paid primarily for treatment with cash, adjusted odds of 6 month retention were significantly lower for individuals with primary payment from Medicaid fee-for-service, Medicare part D, and third-party commercial. There were substantial differences in 6-month retention across states with the lowest in Arizona and highest in New York. Low-possession ratios occurred for 30% of individuals and 26% experienced treatment episodes with gaps >14 days. Odds of low-possession and treatment gaps were largely similar across demographic groups and geographic areas.


Current initiatives to improve access and quality of buprenorphine-naloxone treatment should examine geographic barriers as well as the potential role of insurance benefit design in restricting treatment length.

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