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Drug Addiction

Many Patients Get Opioid Rx While Receiving Buprenorphine

HealthDay News

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MONDAY, Feb. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial proportion of patients with opioid use disorder fill prescriptions for non-buprenorphine opioids during and following treatment with buprenorphine, according to a study published online Feb. 23 in Addiction.

A team led by G. Caleb Alexander, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, evaluated pharmacy records for 38,096 new buprenorphine patients in 11 states. The team also focused on non-buprenorphine prescriptions filled between 2006 and 2013.

The researchers found that 43 percent of addiction patients filled a prescription for a full-strength opioid like oxycodone while undergoing treatment, which was typically three months. And 67 percent did so in the year after treatment ended, the researchers found. The research team pointed out that their analysis didn't include heroin, meaning overall opioid abuse during and after treatment was likely even higher than the study numbers suggested.

"Policymakers may believe that people treated for opioid addiction are cured, but people with substance use disorders have a lifelong vulnerability," Alexander said in a Hopkins news release. "Our findings highlight the importance of stable, ongoing care for these patients."

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