"In a national cohort of 40,885 insured individuals between 2015 and 2017, MOUD [Medication for Opioid Use Disorder] treatment with buprenorphine or methadone was associated with a 76% reduction in overdose at 3 months and a 59% reduction in overdose at 12 months. To our knowledge, this was the largest cohort of commercially insured or MA individuals with OUD [Opioid Use Disorder] studied in a real-world environment with complete medical, pharmacy, and behavioral health administrative claims.

"Treatment with buprenorphine or methadone was associated with a 32% relative rate of reduction in serious opioid-related acute care use at 3 months and a 26% relative rate of reduction at 12 months compared with no treatment. In contrast, detoxification, intensive behavioral health, and naltrexone treatment were not associated with reduced overdose or serious opioid-related acute care use at 3 or 12 months.

"Despite the known benefit of MOUD treatment with buprenorphine or methadone, only 12.5% initiated these evidence-based treatments. Most individuals in this cohort initiated treatment with psychosocial services alone or inpatient detoxification, both of which are less effective than MOUD. It is possible that individuals accessed public sector treatments that were not captured in our data, particularly for methadone, which was not covered by Medicare and may not have been covered without co-payment for all commercial plans during this time. Low rates of MOUD use among an insured population highlight the need for strategies to improve access to and coverage for MOUD treatment."


Wakeman SE, Larochelle MR, Ameli O, et al. Comparative Effectiveness of Different Treatment Pathways for Opioid Use Disorder. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(2):e1920622. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.20622