Opioid addiction prescriptions increase for most age groups


Prescriptions for the opioid addiction drug buprenorphine increased between 2000 and 2018 for most age groups, according to a recent study by Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Prescriptions written by primary care providers more than doubled, from 12.9 to 27.4 per 10,000 people, while prescriptions written by addiction medicine specialists and psychiatrists jumped from 8.7 to 12 per 10,000 people.

Researchers attribute the increase to more people seeking treatment from primary care providers.

Every age group saw an increase except 15- to 24-year-olds, the youngest group analyzed. In that age group, prescriptions fell from 20.4 to 14 per 10,000 people.

Researchers attribute the decrease to a drop in prescriptions from psychiatrists and addiction medicine specialists.

Physicians must obtain a waiver from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and complete a training course to prescribe buprenorphine.

“More than any other provider group, primary care providers offer greater potential for expanding access to buprenorphine treatment because there is such a large number of them who either do not have waivers or are not near their waiver limits,” Dr. Mark Olfson, the study’s leader, said.

Researchers also discovered less than one-third of patients continued taking their medication for at least 180 days.