Patients receiving a prescription for drug to treat opioid use disorder increased during the COVID-19 pandemic – HEOR insights

Buprenorphine is prescribed as a treatment for opioid use disorder. A recent study by Cance et. al. published in JAMA examined changes in outpatient dispensing of buprenorphine in Texas during 90 days before and 90 days after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency (March 13, 2020). The changes observed were:

Increased

Number of patients receiving an outpatient buprenorphine prescriptionNumber of new patientsMean days’ supply per prescriptionElectronic prescribing

Decreased

Number of existing patientsTotal number of outpatient buprenorphine prescriptions 

No changes

Number of prescribersMean dosage

Potential factors influencing the changes in prescriptions of buprenorphine may include relaxation of regulations during pandemic, increased need due to the stress of pandemic, transition of care to outpatient settings, and payment reforms. 

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