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Medicare Beneficiaries Receiving Buprenorphine for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States are at an all-time high, with an estimated 76,000 in the 12-month period ending in June 2021. As they continue to rise, it is essential to ensure access to medication to treat opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine is the most commonly used medication to treat opioid use disorder and has been shown to decrease illicit opioid use and opioid-related overdose deaths. However, it also has a risk of diversion. To address this risk, providers must obtain a waiver through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to prescribe or administer buprenorphine in office-based settings. In April 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration released its drug policy priority areas for its first year, which include removing unnecessary barriers to prescribing buprenorphine and identifying opportunities to expand low-barrier treatment services. As the Department and the Administration consider additional changes to the requirements regarding buprenorphine, it is important to balance the need to increase access while minimizing diversion. This study will provide insight into the use of buprenorphine among Medicare Part D beneficiaries, including the number who are receiving concerning levels of buprenorphine. It will also detail the prescribing patterns of providers who order buprenorphine for these beneficiaries.

Announced or Revised Agency Title Component Report Number(s) Expected Issue Date (FY)
Revised Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Medicare Beneficiaries Receiving Buprenorphine for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder Office of Evaluation and Inspections OEI-02-22-00160 2023