Background and aims: Physician and pharmacist collaboration may help address the shortage of buprenorphine-waivered physicians and improve care for patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). This study investigated the feasibility and acceptability of a new collaborative care model involving buprenorphine-waivered physicians and community pharmacists.
Design: Nonrandomized, single-arm, open-label feasibility trial.
Setting: Three office-based buprenorphine treatment (OBBT) clinics and three community pharmacies in the United States.
Participants: Six physicians, six pharmacists, and 71 patients aged ≥18 years with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) OUD on buprenorphine maintenance.
Intervention: After screening, eligible patients' buprenorphine care was transferred from their OBBT physician to a community pharmacist for 6 months.
Measurements: Primary outcomes included recruitment, treatment retention and adherence, and opioid use. Secondary outcomes were intervention fidelity, pharmacists' use of prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), participant safety, and satisfaction with treatment delivery.
Findings: A high proportion (93.4%, 71/76) of eligible participants enrolled into the study. There were high rates of treatment retention (88.7%) and adherence (95.3%) at the end of the study. The proportion of opioid-positive urine drug screens (UDSs) among complete cases (i.e. those with all six UDSs collected during 6 months) at month 6 was (4.9%, 3/61). Intervention fidelity was excellent. Pharmacists used PDMP at 96.8% of visits. There were no opioid-related safety events. Over 90% of patients endorsed that they were "very satisfied with their experience and the quality of treatment offered," that "treatment transfer from physician's office to the pharmacy was not difficult at all," and that "holding buprenorphine visits at the same place the medication is dispensed was very or extremely useful/convenient." Similarly, positive ratings of satisfaction were found among physicians/pharmacists.
Conclusions: A collaborative care model for people with opioid use disorder that involves buprenorphine-waivered physicians and community pharmacists appears to be feasible to operate in the United States and have high acceptability to patients.
Keywords: Buprenorphine collaborative care; office-based buprenorphine treatment; opioid use disorder; pharmacist-provided care; pharmacy practice; primary care.
© 2021 Society for the Study of Addiction.