Association between buprenorphine/naloxone and high-dose opioid analgesic prescribing in Kentucky, 2012-2017.Drug Alcohol Depend 2019; 205:107606DA
Buprenorphine/naloxone treatment is a highly effective treatment for opioid use disorder decreasing illicit opioid use and both all-cause and opioid-involved overdose mortality. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between buprenorphine/naloxone prescribing and high-dose opioid analgesic prescribing (HDOAP) over time.
This longitudinal study used 2012-2017 Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting data and cross-lagged structural equation analysis. For each quarter-county observation, HDOAP rate (per 1,000 residents with opioid analgesic prescriptions) was used to predict buprenorphine/naloxone prescribing rate at the next quarter, and simultaneously buprenorphine/naloxone prescribing rate was used to predict HDOAP at the next quarter, accounting for baseline socioeconomic status, medical needs for opioid analgesics, and heroin availability.
On average, HDOAP rates in Kentucky decreased by more than 10% (p < .0001) and buprenorphine/naloxone prescribing rates increased by more than 5% (p < .0001) per quarter over the study period. Every one-per-thousand higher HDOAP rate in an earlier quarter was associated with a 0.01/1,000 increase in the buprenorphine/naloxone prescribing rate in a later quarter (p = .009). Conversely, a one-unit higher buprenorphine/naloxone prescribing rate in an earlier quarter was associated with a 0.01/1,000 reduction in the HDOAP rate in a subsequent quarter (p = .017).
Our results indicate a significant reciprocal relationship between HDOAP and buprenorphine/naloxone prescribing and a clinically meaningful effect of buprenorphine/naloxone prescribing on reducing HDOAP. Future studies on buprenorphine/naloxone treatment expansion should take into account this bi-directional association in the context of longitudinal data and evaluate for public health benefits beyond the reduction of HDOAP.