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Long-term Buprenorphine/Naloxone Outcomes Promising for Prescription Opioid Users

April 1, 2015
Weiss, RD, et al.
Weiss RD, et al. Long-Term Outcomes from the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trial Network Prescription Opioid Study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2015 (in press).
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Despite the growing prevalence of prescription opioid dependence, studies have examined only short-term treatment response, not what happens over a longer period of time.

This study examined outcomes over 42 months in the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network’s Prescription Opioid Abuse Treatment Study (POATS, CTN-0030), to see what, if any, improvements in abstinence from opioids was seen after the conclusion of the original 9-month study period.

POATS was a multi-site clinical trial examining different durations of buprenorphine-naloxone plus standard medical management for prescription opioid dependence. A subset of participants (375 of 653) enrolled in this follow-up study, agreeing to participate in telephone interviews approximately 18, 30, and 42 months after main-trial enrollment.

Results revealed significant improvements at month 42:

  • 31.7% were abstinent from opioids and not on agonist therapy;
  • 29.4% were receiving opioid agonist therapy but met no symptom criteria for current opioid dependence;
  • 7.5% were using illicit opioids while on agonist therapy;
  • 31.4% were using opioids without agonist therapy

Conclusions: This was the first study to examine long-term treatment outcomes of patients with prescription opioid dependence and results were more encouraging than short-term outcomes from POATS suggested they might be. Long-term outcomes for those dependent on prescription opioids demonstrated clear improvement from baseline, underscoring the importance of longer-term follow-up in improving understanding about the course of this increasingly prevalent substance use disorder.

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