Buprenorphine prescriptions vary greatly by state

Medicaid prescriptions for buprenorphine, a treatment for opioid use disorder, differed significantly by state in 2018, according to a report from the Urban Institute.

For the report, researchers reviewed 2011-18 State Utilization Drug Data to analyze trends in buprenorphine prescriptions given to Medicaid recipients ages 12 and older as a treatment for opioid use disorder.

Three report findings:

1. The number of Medicaid-covered buprenorphine prescriptions increased from 1.3 million in 2011 to 6.2 million in 2018.

2. The average prescribing rate also jumped from 36 prescriptions per 1,000 beneficiaries to 124 prescriptions over the same time period.

3. Researchers found "substantial variation" in state's subscribing rates in 2018. Vermont had the highest rate at 1,210 prescriptions per 1,000 beneficiaries, while Arkansas had the lowest at just 5 prescriptions per 1,000 beneficiaries.

"Though state-level differences in prescribing rates may partially reflect differences in

underlying rates of [opioid use disorder] and prescription-writing practices, it is unlikely that such factors account for the 31-fold state variation in prescriptions per enrollee we find in 2018," the researchers wrote.

To download the full report, click here.

More articles on opioids:

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The challenges of lowering opioid prescriptions
More than half of privately insured kids getting tonsils removed receive opioids

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