Telehealth companies for opioid use dysfunction throughout pandemic decreased danger for overdose

September 01, 2022

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Jones stories no related monetary disclosures. Please see the examine for all different authors’ related monetary disclosures. Czeisler stories consulting charges from Vanda Prescribed drugs; grant funding from CDC; in addition to a present from Hopelab paid to Monash College.

Telehealth companies utilized by Medicare beneficiaries who initiated opioid use disorder-related care through the COVID-19 pandemic had been related to improved retention in care and lowered odds for overdose.

“COVID-19 pandemic–associated stressors and implementation of mitigation measures, resembling stay-at-home orders, raised considerations about rising overdose danger amongst people with [opioid use disorders] and disruptions to [medications for opioid use disorders] and different therapy and restoration assist companies,” Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, DrPH, MPH, of the CDC’s Nationwide Middle for Harm Prevention and Management, and colleagues wrote in JAMA Psychiatry.

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The researchers performed an exploratory longitudinal cohort examine, utilizing Medicare and Medicaid companies from September 2018 to February 2021, to look at telehealth companies, medicines for opioid use dysfunction receipt and retention, in addition to overdose charges earlier than and after the pandemic.

The authors established two cohorts: one earlier than the pandemic from September 2018 to February 2020; and one through the pandemic from September 2019 to February 2021. All members had been aged 18 years or older, Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries and had an opioid use dysfunction analysis.

The pre-pandemic cohort comprised 105,240 people (58.1% feminine; 67.6% aged 45 to 74 years); the pandemic cohort included 70,538 members (57.1% feminine; 66.3% aged 45 to 74 years).

In contrast with the pre-pandemic cohort, extra members within the pandemic cohort obtained opioid use disorder-related telehealth service (19.6% vs. 0.6%), behavioral well being companies (41% vs. 1.9%) and medicines for opioid use issues (12.6% vs. 10.8%).

The share of members who skilled a medically handled overdose was related between the 2 teams — 18.5% within the pre-pandemic, in contrast with 18.4% within the pandemic cohort.

In keeping with the authors, receipt of opioid use disorder-related telehealth companies through the pandemic was linked to elevated odds of medicines for opioid use dysfunction retention (adjusted OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.14-1.41), in addition to decrease odds of medically handled overdose (aOR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.63-0.71).

Particularly, these within the pandemic cohort who obtained medicines for opioid use issues from opioid therapy packages solely (aOR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.47-0.63) and those that obtained buprenorphine from pharmacies solely (aOR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.84-0.98) had decrease odds of medically handled overdose in contrast with those that didn’t obtain medicines for opioid use dysfunction.

“Methods to extend entry to care and [medications for opioid use disorders] receipt and retention are urgently wanted, and the outcomes of this examine add to the rising analysis documenting the advantages of increasing using telehealth companies for folks with [opioid use disorders],” Jones mentioned in a associated NIH press launch. “The findings from this collaborative examine additionally spotlight the significance of working throughout businesses to establish profitable approaches to deal with the escalating overdose disaster.”

In a associated JAMA Psychiatry editorial, Mark E. Czeisler, PhD, of Harvard Medical College, wrote that though telehealth companies had been initially provided as a option to mitigate the unfold of COVID-19, the advantages of telehealth develop past that.

“Many benefits of telehealth and take-home medicines have pre-pandemic priority and will have been thought-about even within the absence of a pandemic,” Czeisler wrote. “The accelerating opioid epidemic ought to encourage swift motion designed to equitably improve engagement with evidence-based methods to deal with opioid misuse and, in flip, save lives.”


Czeisler ME, et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2022;doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.2032.

Elevated use of telehealth for OUD companies throughout COVID-19 pandemic related to lowered danger of overdose. Revealed Aug. 31, 2022; Accessed Aug. 31, 2022.


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