Relationship between buprenorphine adherence and health service utilization and costs among opioid dependent patients

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2014 Apr;46(4):456-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2013.10.014. Epub 2013 Nov 12.


Buprenorphine-medication assisted therapy (B-MAT) is an effective treatment for opioid dependence, but may be considered cost-prohibitive based on ingredient cost alone. The purpose of this study was to use medical and pharmacy claims data to estimate the healthcare service utilization and costs associated with B-MAT adherence among a sample of opioid dependent members. Members were placed into two adherence groups based on 1-year medication possession ratio (≥ 0.80 vs. <0.80). The B-MAT adherent group incurred significantly higher pharmacy charges (adjusted means; $6,156 vs. $3,581), but lower outpatient ($9,288 vs. $14,570), inpatient ($10,982 vs. $26,470), ER ($1,891 vs. $4,439), and total healthcare charges ($28,458 vs. $49,051; p<0.01) compared to non-adherent members. Adherence effects were confirmed in general linear models. Though B-MAT adherence requires increased pharmacy utilization, adherent individuals were shown to use fewer expensive health care services, resulting in overall reduced healthcare expenditure compared to non-adherent patients.

Keywords: Adherence; Buprenorphine; Dependence; Opiate; Opioid; Pharmacoeconomics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Buprenorphine / administration & dosage*
  • Buprenorphine / economics
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug Costs
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / economics
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Young Adult


  • Buprenorphine