"First, we confirmed that the rate of diagnosed OUD has increased steadily among commercially insured adults, and we documented how the age distribution of OUD has changed. In 2008 diagnosed OUD among the youngest age group (ages 18–24) was more than double that among the oldest group (ages 55–64). However, in 2017 diagnosis rates exhibited a hump-shaped pattern in age, with the highest rate (4.75 per 1,000 enrollees) among the middle-aged (people ages 35–44) and the greatest increase among the near-elderly (ages 55–64).
"Our finding that MOUD [Medication for Opioid Use Disorder] treatment with naltrexone was not protective against overdose or serious opioid-related acute care use is consistent with other studies15,35 that found naltrexone to be less effective than MOUD treatment with buprenorphine. The mean (SD) treatment duration for naltrexone in this cohort was longer than prior observational studies at 74.41 (70.15) days.
"Our results demonstrate the importance of treatment retention with MOUD [Medication for Opioid Use Disorder]. Individuals who received methadone or buprenorphine for longer than 6 months experienced fewer overdose events and serious opioid-related acute care use compared with those who received shorter durations of treatment or no treatment. These findings are consistent with prior research11,15,27-29 demonstrating high rates of recurrent opioid use if MOUD treatment is discontinued prematurely. Despite the benefit of MOUD in our study, treatment duration was relatively short.
"In a national cohort of 40,885 insured individuals between 2015 and 2017, MOUD [Medication for Opioid Use Disorder] treatment with buprenorphine or methadone was associated with a 76% reduction in overdose at 3 months and a 59% reduction in overdose at 12 months. To our knowledge, this was the largest cohort of commercially insured or MA individuals with OUD [Opioid Use Disorder] studied in a real-world environment with complete medical, pharmacy, and behavioral health administrative claims.
"This study demonstrates that buprenorphine treatment is concentrated among white persons and those with private insurance or use self-pay. This finding in nationally representative data builds on a previous study that reported buprenorphine treatment disparities on the basis of race/ethnicity and income in New York City.2 It is unclear whether the appearance of a treatment disparity may reflect different prevalence in OUD by race/ethnicity.
"In the 12 months after a nonfatal overdose, 2040 persons (11%) enrolled in MMT for a median of 5 months (interquartile range, 2 to 9 months), 3022 persons (17%) received buprenorphine for a median of 4 months (interquartile range, 2 to 8 months), and 1099 persons (6%) received naltrexone for a median of 1 month (interquartile range, 1 to 2 months). Among the entire cohort, all-cause mortality was 4.7 deaths (95% CI, 4.4 to 5.0 deaths) per 100 person-years and opioid-related mortality was 2.1 deaths (CI, 1.9 to 2.4 deaths) per 100 person-years.
"Virtually all drug courts (98%) reported that at least some of their participants were opioid-dependent in 2010. Prescription opioids were more frequently cited as the primary opioid problem than heroin (66% vs. 26%). This trend is particularly apparent in less densely populated areas: prescription versus heroin rates across the three population areas were: rural (76% vs. 12%), suburban (67% vs. 33%), and urban (prescription opioids less likely to be selected than heroin as the primary opioid; 38% vs. 50%); p < .01.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers [CEA] released its analysis of the economic costs of illegal opioid use, related overdoses, and overdose mortality in November 2017. It reported a dramatically higher estimate than previous analyses, largely due to a change in methodology. Previous analyses had used a person's estimated lifetime earnings to place a dollar value on that person's life.
"First, factors related to death investigation might affect rate estimates involving specific drugs. At autopsy, the substances tested for, and circumstances under which tests are performed to determine which drugs are present, might vary by jurisdiction and over time. Second, the percentage of deaths with specific drugs identified on the death certificate varies by jurisdiction and over time. Nationally, 19% (in 2014) and 17% (in 2015) of drug overdose death certificates did not include the specific types of drugs involved.