Relaxed access to addiction-treatment drug not tied to increased overdose deaths, study finds
February 10, 2023
The proportion of drug overdose deaths involving buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid use disorders, did not increase after relaxed access to the treatment drug during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study says (Source: “Overdose deaths didn’t rise after prescription rules relaxed, study says,” Dayton Daily News, Feb. 4).
The study, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said that of approximately 74,474 opioid-involved overdose deaths, buprenorphine was involved in 2.6% of the deaths during July 2019 to June 2021. Although monthly opioid-involved overdose deaths increased, the proportion involving buprenorphine fluctuated but did not increase.
“Buprenorphine was approved by the FDA for treatment of opioid use disorder in 2002, and it has been shown to improve outcomes and even reduce the risk of death from an opioid overdose,” said Dr. Natalie Lester, chief medical officer of OneFifteen.