Impact of COVID-19 Related Policy Changes on Buprenorphine Dispensing in Texas

James Douglas Thornton, Tyler J. Varisco, Shweta S. Bapat, Callie G. Downs, Chan Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives:To measure the change in the daily number of patients receiving buprenorphine and buprenorphine prescribers during the early phase of the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic in Texas.Methods:Counts of the number of patients filling and number of providers prescribing buprenorphine were calculated for each weekday between November 4, 2019 and May 12, 2020. The change in daily patients and prescribers between March 2, 2020 and May 12, 2020, was modeled as a change in slope compared to the baseline period using autoregressive, interrupted time series regression.Results:The rate of change of daily buprenorphine prescriptions (β = -1.75, 95% CI = -5.8-2.34) and prescribers (β = -0.32, 95% CI = -1.47-0.82) declined insignificantly during the COVID-19 period compared to the baseline.Conclusions:Despite a 57% decline in ambulatory care utilization in the south-central US during March and April of 2020, health services utilization related to buprenorphine in Texas remained robust. Protecting access to buprenorphine as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold will require intensive efforts from clinicians and policy makers alike. While the presented results are promising, researchers must continue monitoring and exploring the clinical and humanistic impact of COVID-19 on the treatment of substance use disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E372-E374
JournalJournal of Addiction Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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