Last year a commentary on the Methadone Access Research Task Force, created by the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network, recommended ways to expand access to treatment.
In the commentary, published Substance Abuse by Paul Joudrey, M.D. and colleagues – who together constitute a virtual who’s who of buprenorphine treatment research – the writers noted that the task force identified these areas for future research:
- access to methadone in general medical and other outpatient settings,
- the impact of methadone treatment setting on patient outcomes,
- impact of treatment structure on outcomes in patients receiving methadone,
- comparative effectiveness of different medications to treat OUD,
- optimal educational and support structure for provision of methadone by medical providers, and
- benefits and harms of expanded methadone access.
Of course, many of these areas include concepts which are currently not allowed under regulations, but that doesn’t mean the research shouldn’t be done, towards the end of possibly changing the regulations, the authors suggest.
In the United States, the only place methadone treatment can be provided to patients with opioid use disorder is through opioid treatment programs (OTPs), which are regulated by the federal government and states. The researchers note that there is a shortage of OTPs.
Other areas for research, the authors write, include
- patient characteristics
- treatment system characteristics
- methadone formulation and dose
- concurrent behavioral treatment
- frequency of dispensing, and
- urine or oral fluid testing.
Joudrey PJ, Bart G, Brooner RK, et al: Research priorities for expanding access to methadone treatment for opioid use disorder in the United States: A National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network Task Force report. Subst Abuse. 2021;42(3):245-254.
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