Evaluation of an implementation of methadone maintenance treatment in China

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Dec 1;157:60-7. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.10.001. Epub 2015 Oct 8.


Background: Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) reduces the harms of opioid use disorder and is being rapidly scaled-up in China. This study evaluated the real-world implementation of MMT system in Wuhan, China.

Methods: Data extracted from electronic medical records collected in 2010 on 8811 patients were used to compute for each patient indices of the prescribed and consumed daily methadone doses, an adherence index, dose adjustments following missed doses, the rates of opiate positive urine tests, self-reported drug use, injection drug use (IDU), and the duration of MMT exposure.

Findings: The modal daily doses prescribed were 60 mg and above for 68.5% of patients. Adherence was variable: 51% of patients attended less than 60% and 26% attended 80-100% of their treatment days; and patients with long MMT exposure had significantly higher adherence rates than patients with short MMT exposure. The differences between doses dispensed immediately before and after the interruption in dosing days ranged from 0 to 7 mg, independently of the length of the interruption or the prescribed dosing level. The overall rate of opiate positive tests was 20%; 45% of patients had at least one opiate positive test; 29% reported past month drug use and 53% of them reported past month IDU. Adherence and MMT exposure duration correlated significantly with the proportion of opiate negative urine tests (r=0.355, p<0.001; r=0.351, p<0.001, respectively). Treatment for males and females was comparable.

Conclusions: Provision of safe methadone dosing after absences and improving daily attendance are identified as priority improvement areas.

Keywords: China; Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT); Opioid use disorders; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Analgesics, Opioid / urine
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / urine
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Methadone