Pharmacies are likely to be better place to dispense daily methadone maintenance treatment than Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs)

Mean driving time to Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) is greater than to pharmacies in the US. A national study suggests that methadone maintenance treatment should be dispensed at pharmacies rather than at OTPs

Methadone maintenance treatment is an effective option to recover from withdrawal symptoms or reduce craving of opioids among patients with opioid use disorder. Opioid dependent patients take a daily dose of methadone. In Australia, Canada and the UK, patients can receive methadone maintenance treatment from community pharmacies. However, the US federal regulations require patients to travel to opioid treatment programs (OTPs) to obtain their methadone treatment. 

Difference between driving time to OTP and pharmacy

Source: Kleinman RA. Comparison of Driving Times to Opioid Treatment Programs and Pharmacies in the US. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online July 15, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.1624

The study also investigated driving distance and costs to reach OTP vs. pharmacy across US states and similar patterns were observed. The driving distance to OTP was higher than to pharmacy (median distance = 7.5 miles vs. 1.1 miles respectively). The study found that ‘Driving costs were higher to OTPs than to pharmacies in all regions using the variable cost and fuel-cost models”.

Author suggests that “driving times to methadone maintenance treatment in the US may be reduced with pharmacy-based dispensing of methadone maintenance”

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