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A large study of Medicaid patients found that the longer they take medication to treat their opioid use disorder, the less likely they are to overdose.

The study analyzed overdose and treatment data from Wisconsin and 10 other Midwestern and Eastern states that are among the highest in opioid overdose deaths. It analyzed the outcomes of 293,180 Medicaid beneficiaries with opioid use disorder who received treatment with drugs such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone in 2016 or 2017. These drugs prevent withdrawal symptoms and cravings psychological problems of people living with an opioid use disorder, according to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Andrew Hellpap
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The study results are published today in the journal Addiction.

Marguerite Burns

“Longer is better, but even relatively short episodes of opioid use disorder medication treatment, as short as 60 days, are associated with significant reductions in overdose risk,” said Marguerite Burns. , associate professor of population health sciences at the University. of the Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who led the study. “We found that protection increases gradually as people take the drug over a 12-month period.”

Patients who took medication for the full 60 days had a 61% lower risk of overdose compared to those who stopped treatment before 60 days. The researchers then followed the patients at two-month intervals and found that for every additional 60 days the patients stayed on the medication, the risk of overdose dropped by 10 percent. The study ended with one year of treatment.

The findings suggest the importance of identifying strategies to keep Medicaid beneficiaries with opioid use disorder longer, Burns said.

“Performance metrics that encourage health systems to increase retention in treatment, rather than meeting a duration threshold, may serve patients better,” he said.

Medicaid insures nearly a quarter of Americans, about 80 million people, covers four out of 10 people with opioid use disorder in the country, and is the largest payer of drug treatment for opioid use disorder. use of opioids. Medicaid recipients have low incomes. Private insurers often adopt policy changes about medical treatment made by Medicaid.

Medicaid data analyzed for the research came from Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. States pool their results using meta-analytic statistical methods to obtain a multi-state pooled estimate as part of the Medicaid Distributed Outcomes Research Network (MODRN).

“After a year in which opioid-related deaths have increased dramatically, there is an even greater urgency to identify and implement effective overdose prevention strategies,” said Julie Donohue, lead author of the study. and director of MODRN. Donohue is a professor and professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health Department of Health Policy and Management.

Source: Longer is better when treating opioid addiction with medication