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In the fall of 2019, the University of Oregon Health and Science opened a clinic to provide same-day access to proven drugs to treat opioid-related disorders.

Within months, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the clinic to switch to virtual care.

Now that the pandemic is receding, the clinic intends to follow its virtual care model to provide buprenorphine to patients with opioid dependence. The reason: the remote model allows clinics to expand patient services in every corner of Oregon. Also, a recently published study in the journal Drug abuse suggests that many patients prefer this.

The clinic, which prescribes buprenorphine, also known under the trade name Suboxone, continues to focus on maintaining ease of access, said senior author Bradley Buchheit, MD, medical director of the OHSU Harm Reduction and Relief Clinic (HRBR). Spoken “harbor,” OHSU has opened a clinic as a way to reduce barriers and quickly and easily engage people in treatment.

“When they say they are willing to stop using and undergo treatment, sometimes you have a very, very narrow window to get them to help,” Buchheit said.

The new study included in-depth interviews with 19 deidentified patients, 12 of whom preferred the virtual model.

“Virtual visits were perceived by participants as a valuable and critical access to treatment,” the authors conclude. “While many participants preferred virtual visits, some preferred personal visits because of relationships and physical interactions with providers.”

The virtual model means the clinic can serve patients far beyond the OHSU Marquam Hill campus in Portland. Since the pandemic in March 2020 forced the clinic to switch to a remote-only model, it served patients in 32 of Oregon’s 36 counties, averaging 200 to 250 patient visits per month.

“In an ideal world HRBR would be a hybrid model,” Buchheit said. “Our goal is to attract people opioid disorder on drugs, stabilize them, and then pass them on to community partners for ongoing care. ”

Unfortunately, Oregon does not have access to addiction treatment. The latest National Drug and Health Survey shows that Oregon ranks last among 50 states in access to treatment, as of 2020 – an estimated 18% of teens and adults in need of treatment do not receive it.

“Ideally, we will not need such clinics in the long run,” Buchheit said. “Hopefully, we can increase addiction care in primary care clinics, emergency departments, and specialty drug clinics across the state by allowing on-demand appointments everywhere. Until then, we plan to continue to provide access to HRBR for Oregon residents seeking access to drug addiction. ”

Buprenorphine, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, relieves withdrawal symptoms, cravings and pain. Also known as Suboxone, it normalizes brain function acting on the same target in the brain as prescription opioids or heroin. It is one of three drugs approved by the FDA treatment Opioid dependence, along with methadone and naltrexone.

Unlike methadone, which is traditionally administered daily at the clinic, patients can leave the clinic with a longer prescription at buprenorphine.

Targeted buprenorphine may help prepare people with opioid disorders for treatment

Additional information:
Rachel Lockard et al., A qualitative study of the experience of patients treated with opioid-related telemedicine disorders during COVID-19, Drug abuse (2022). DOI: 10.1080 / 08897077.2022.2060447

Citation: The Buprenorphine Clinic on Demand Reaches Every Corner of Oregon (May 20, 2022), retrieved May 16, 2022 from .html

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