INTRODUCTION: Long-acting injectable buprenorphine (LAI-bup) formulations have advantages over transmucosal buprenorphine (TM-bup), but barriers may limit their utilization. Several policies shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic to promote buprenorphine access. The federal government expanded telemedicine treatment for opioid use disorder and Kentucky (KY) Medicaid lifted prior authorization requirements (PAs) for LAI-bup (i.e., Sublocade®). This retrospective cohort study evaluated changes in LAI-bup access, utilization, and retention before and after these policy changes in KY.

METHODS: Individual-level TM-bup and LAI-bup dispensing record data from KY's prescription drug monitoring program examined LAI-bup utilization and retention, without a >30-day gap in coverage, for patients starting a new episode of LAI-bup treatment. Two key time periods were examined: pre-policy changes (Apr 1, 2019 - Dec 31, 2019) and post-policy changes (Apr 1, 2020 - Dec 31, 2020). Data on PA requests among Medicaid managed care organizations and availability of LAI-bup Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)-certified pharmacies were also obtained. A multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression model analysis compared pre- versus post-policy period treatment discontinuation.

RESULTS: The number of patients initiating LAI-bup increased from 211 to 481 over the two periods. By the end of the post-policy period, 24.3 % of eligible patients were retained on LAI-bup, versus 12.5 % in the pre-policy change period. The adjusted hazard ratio, comparing discontinuation during the post- versus pre-policy change periods, was 0.70 (95 % confidence interval: 0.55-0.89). There were also more REMS-certified pharmacies and providers in the post-policy change period.

CONCLUSIONS: LAI-bup access, utilization, and retention increased after several policy changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209391
JournalJournal of substance use and addiction treatment
StateE-pub ahead of print - May 11 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024. Published by Elsevier Inc.


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