J Addict Med. 2023 Nov-Dec 01;17(6):714-716. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001208. Epub 2023 Aug 18.
IMPORTANCE: Opioid-related mortality rates have risen dramatically over the past decade, and office-based opioid treatment using buprenorphine offers hope for combatting this trend. Vermont’s policymakers, health care systems, and treatment providers have worked to expand access to treatment throughout the rural state.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of the current study was to characterize the trends in the number of buprenorphine prescribers and the number of patients per prescriber in Vermont over the past decade (2010-2020).
METHODS: We used Vermont’s all-payer claims database to identify patients with buprenorphine claims between 2010 and 2020 and their prescribers. We conducted analyses of trends in the number of prescribers treating different numbers of patients, the number of patients treated by prescribers in those categories, and the number of rural (vs nonrural) patients filling buprenorphine prescriptions. We used Z tests to determine if there were statistical differences between trends.
RESULTS: The number of buprenorphine prescribers treating 10+ patients grew more rapidly than other prescriber groups ( P < 0.001). Nearly half of Vermont patients in 2020 were treated by 33 high-volume prescribers who treated 100 or more patients with buprenorphine. The number of patients filling buprenorphine prescriptions in Vermont increased by 98% between 2010 and 2020, with greater increases seen among rural than nonrural residents (107% vs 72%; P = 0.008).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Since 2010, Vermont has increased utilization of its office-based opioid treatment capacity, particularly in rural counties.