PainRelief.com Interview with:
Kao-Ping Chua, MD, PhD
Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation and Research Center
Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor MI 48109
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Opioid overdose deaths are at a record high in the U.S. Many opioid overdose deaths can be prevented by medications for opioid use disorder, such as buprenorphine, a drug that can prescribed in office settings. However, buprenorphine cannot prevent opioid overdose deaths if patients are never started on the medication or only stay on the medication for a short time. For that reason, rates of buprenorphine initiation and retention are critical metrics for measuring how well the U.S. health care system is responding to the opioid epidemic.
At the time we started our study, several other research groups had evaluated U.S. rates of buprenorphine initiation and retention using data through 2020. However, more recent national data were lacking. We felt that this was an important knowledge gap given the many changes in society that have occurred since 2020. For example, it was possible that the relaxation of social distancing measures during 2021 and 2022 might have reduced barriers to health care visits, thereby increasing opportunities to initiate treatment for opioid addiction with buprenorphine.