Comparative effectiveness of extended release naltrexone and sublingual buprenorphine for treatment of opioid use disorder among Medicaid patients

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 Apr 1:2024.01.24.24301555. doi: 10.1101/2024.01.24.24301555.


Aims: To compare the real-world effectiveness of extended release naltrexone (XR-NTX) and sublingual buprenorphine (SL-BUP) for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).

Design: An observational active comparator, new user cohort study.

Setting: Medicaid claims records for patients in New Jersey and California, 2016-2019.

Participants/cases: Adult Medicaid patients aged 18-64 years who initiated XR-NTX or SL-BUP for maintenance treatment of OUD and did not use medications for OUD in the 90-days before initiation.

Comparators: New initiation with XR-NTX versus SL-BUP for the treatment of OUD.

Measurements: We examined two outcomes up to 180 days after medication initiation, 1) composite of medication discontinuation and death, and 2) composite of overdose and death.

Findings: Our cohort included 1,755 XR-NTX and 9,886 SL-BUP patients. In adjusted analyses, treatment with XR-NTX was more likely to result in discontinuation or death by the end of follow-up than treatment with SL-BUP: cumulative risk 76% (95% confidence interval [CI] 75%, 78%) versus 62% (95% CI 61%, 63%), respectively (risk difference 14 percentage points, 95% CI 13, 16). There was minimal difference in the cumulative risk of overdose or death by the end of follow-up: XR-NTX 3.8% (95% CI 2.9%, 4.7%) versus SL-BUP 3.3% (95% 2.9%, 3.7%); risk difference 0.5 percentage points, 95%CI-0.5, 1.5. Results were consistent across sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: Longer medication retention is important because risks of negative outcomes are elevated after discontinuation. Our results support selection of SL-BUP over XR-NTX. However, most patients discontinued medication by 6 months indicating that more effective tools are needed to improve medication retention, particularly after initiation with XR-NTX, and to identify which patients do best on which medication.

Publication types

  • Preprint