Teen opioid deaths continue to rise, but buprenorphine prescriptions decline by 45%: CDC 

Despite the increase in adolescent and teen opioid-related deaths, the dispensing rate of buprenorphine decreased by 45 percent between 2015 and 2020 in individuals younger than 19, according to a study published Jan. 24 in Pediatrics. 

During the same time period, the proportion of adults 20 and older prescribed buprenorphine, one of three medications approved by the FDA to treat opioid use disorder, increased by 47 percent, said CDC researchers, who conducted the study based on IQVIA data from between 2015 and 2020.

The FDA has not yet approved buprenorphine for youth under 16, but waivers can be obtained to prescribe the medication off-label.

Many young people who could benefit from buprenorphine are not receiving it, according to the study research team, led by Andrew Terranella, MD, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC's Division of Overdose Prevention.

"Efforts to expand access to MOUD for adolescents could include improving training in opioid use disorder treatment of pediatricians and encouraging all clinicians who care for adolescents and young adults to obtain waivers to prescribe buprenorphine for MOUD," the article said.


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