May 21, 2024
Opioid Addiction Treatment

Facilities Underutilizing Monthly Injections for Opioid Addiction Treatment

An investigatory study conducted by the University of Chicago has shed light on the underutilization of monthly long-acting injectable (LAI) buprenorphine in treating opioid addiction within substance use treatment facilities in the United States. The research, which involved an in-depth analysis of data from the National Substance Use and Mental Health Services Survey, revealed that only 32.6% of these facilities that offered medication for opioid use disorder provided LAI buprenorphine to their patients.

The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), posited that administrative barriers contribute to the low uptake of LAI buprenorphine as compared to the oral form of the medication, making it more challenging and costly to acquire. However, facilities with primary care services were more inclined to offer LAI buprenorphine, indicating that they may face fewer regulatory obstacles in prescribing the monthly injection.

Lead author of the study, Nitin Vidyasagar, emphasized the gaps in the current system and expressed optimism about leveraging this information to enhance the treatment of individuals in need. Meanwhile, Samuel R. Bunting, a co-author and UChicago Medicine adult psychiatry resident, hopes that the study will set a benchmark for future progress in leveraging this underused yet potentially life-saving medication.

The researchers, inspired by their experiences in healthcare, collaborated with colleagues to explore how resources for HIV prevention and LAI medications for psychiatric conditions are allocated in healthcare settings. Their ultimate goal is to advocate for the optimization of opioid treatment options for patients, especially amidst the escalating opioid addiction crisis.

Dr. Mim Ari, an addiction medicine specialist and primary care physician at UChicago Medicine, highlighted the importance of initiating discussions on improving health policies, eliminating barriers, and fostering partnerships to facilitate sustainable recovery for individuals grappling with opioid use disorder. There is a collective call to action within the healthcare community to explore enhanced strategies for providing comprehensive opioid addiction treatment.

The University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine has been acknowledged for its rigorous training programs aimed at equipping medical students to address opioid addiction in various clinical settings. Notably, the O.P.I.A.T.E. initiative was introduced to enhance addiction training and education at UChicago Medicine, emphasizing proactive screening for opioid overdose risk and the distribution of naloxone kits to at-risk patients and their close contacts.

This study serves as a wakeup call to healthcare professionals, urging them to explore innovative approaches to expand the availability of effective opioid addiction treatments. By fostering collaboration and advocating for policy changes, the medical community can work towards ensuring that individuals with opioid use disorder have access to a comprehensive range of treatment options.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it