Full agonist opioid prescribing by primary care clinicians after buprenorphine training

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Background: While primary care clinicians are being trained to use buprenorphine for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) in order to increase access to addiction treatment, it is not known what impact such training and subsequent experience treating patients with OUD has on full agonist opioid prescribing. Methods: This retrospective cohort study compares the full agonist opioid prescribing patterns of Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA)-waivered (“X-waivered”) primary care clinicians to non-trained, non-waivered clinicians in a rural health network. X-waivered clinicians also received Project ECHO training and telementoring support for one year. Using prescriber data generated by an electronic medical record system, opioid prescribing and morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day per patient were calculated. A between-group analysis was used to compare the study groups six months pre-versus post-training. Results: Although the mean number of full agonist opioid prescriptions per clinician and per 100 patient encounters decreased among all clinicians, there was no change in full agonist opioid prescribing MME. As expected, buprenorphine prescribing by X-waivered, trained clinicians increased significantly post-training. Conclusions: X-waivers plus Project ECHO support for the treatment of OUD using buprenorphine had no effect on full agonist opioid prescribing by primary care clinicians.