Black Patients Much Less Likely to Receive Buprenorphine for Opioid Addiction

doctor and anonymous patient

A study of outpatient treatment for opioid addiction finds white patients are almost 35 times more likely than black patients to have a visit related to the addiction treatment medication buprenorphine, Kaiser Health News reports.

“We shouldn’t see differences this large, given that people of color have similar rates of opioid use disorder,” lead researcher Pooja Lagisetty said in a news release. “As the number of Americans with opioid use disorder grows, we need to increase access to treatment for black and low income populations, and be thoughtful about how we reach all those who could benefit from this treatment.”

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, reviewed two national surveys of doctor-reported prescriptions from 2012 to 2015. It found most of the white patients either paid cash (40 percent) or relied on private insurance (35 percent) for buprenorphine treatment. Only 25 percent of the visits were paid for through Medicaid and Medicare. This highlights that “many of these visits could be very costly for persons of low income,” Lagisetty said.

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