A Descriptive analysis of urine drug screen results in patients with opioid use disorder managed in a primary care setting

Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2021 Sep 30;16(1):59. doi: 10.1186/s13722-021-00264-4.


Background: Urine drug screening (UDS) is commonly used as part of treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), including treatment with buprenorphine-naloxone for OUD in a primary care setting. Very little is known about the value of UDS, the optimum screening frequency in general, or its specific use for buprenorphine treatment in primary care. To address this question, we thought that in a stable population receiving buprenorphine-naloxone in the primary care setting it would be useful to know how often UDS yielded expected and unexpected results.

Methods: We present a descriptive analysis of UDS results in patients treated with buprenorphine-naloxone for OUD in a primary care setting over a two-year period. An unexpected test result is: 1. A negative test for buprenorphine and/or 2. A positive test for opioids, methadone, cocaine and/or heroin.

Results: A total of 161 patients received care during the study period and a total of 2588 test results were analyzed from this population. We found that 64.4% of the patient population (n = 104 patients) demonstrated both treatment adherence (as measured by buprenorphine positive test results) and no apparent unexpected test findings, as defined by negative tests for opioids, methadone, cocaine and heroin. Of the 161 patients, 20 results were positive for opioids, 5 for methadone, 39 for heroin and 2 for cocaine. Analysis at the UDS level demonstrated that, of the 2588 test results, 38 (1.5%) results did not have buprenorphine. Of the 2588, 28 (1.1%) test results were positive for opioids, 8 (0.3%) were positive for methadone, 39 (1.5%) for cocaine and 2 (0.1%) for heroin.

Conclusion: Given that the majority of patients in our study had expected urine results, it may be reasonable for less frequent urine testing in certain patients.

Keywords: Buprenorphine-naloxone; Medications for treatment of opioid use disorder (MOUD); Opioid use disorder; Urine drug screen.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Buprenorphine* / therapeutic use
  • Buprenorphine, Naloxone Drug Combination / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Methadone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Primary Health Care


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine, Naloxone Drug Combination
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone