Psychiatric and medical comorbidities, associated pain, and health care utilization of patients prescribed buprenorphine
This study describes the comorbidities and health care utilization of individuals treated with buprenorphine using the 2007–2009 MarketScan Research Databases. Buprenorphine recipients had a high prevalence of comorbidities associated with chronic pain, including back problems (42%), connective tissue disease (24–27%), and nontraumatic joint disorders (20–23%). Approximately 69% of recipients filled prescriptions for opioid agonist medications in the 6 months before buprenorphine initiation. Buprenorphine recipients were frequently diagnosed with anxiety (23–42%) and mood disorders (39–51%) and filled prescriptions for antidepressants (47–56%) and benzodiazepines (47–56%) at high rates. Surprisingly, only 53–54% of patients filling a prescription for buprenorphine had a coded opioid abuse/dependence diagnosis. Research is needed to better understand buprenorphine's effectiveness in the context of prescription drug abuse and the best way to coordinate services to address the patient's comorbid addiction, pain, and psychiatric illnesses.