Introduction: Buprenorphine follows the success of methadone as another milestone in the history of treatment for opioid addiction. Buprenorphine can be used in an office-based setting where it is clearly effective, highly accepted by patients and has a favorable safety profile and less abuse potential. However, the adoption of buprenorphine treatment has been slow in the USA.
Areas covered: This article first reviews the history of medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment and the current epidemic opioid addiction, followed by a review of the efficacy, pharmacology and clinical prescription of buprenorphine in office-based care. We then explore the possible barriers in using buprenorphine and the ways to overcome these barriers, including new formulations, educational programs and policy regulations that strike a balance between accessibility and reducing diversion.
Expert opinion: Buprenorphine can align addiction treatment with treatments for other chronic medical illnesses. However, preventing diversion will require graduate and continuing medical education and integrated care models for delivery of buprenorphine to those in need.
Keywords: barriers; buprenorphine; integrated treatment model; office-based; opioid dependence.