Last Updated : September 25, 2019
OUD is described as “a problematic pattern of opioid use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.” OUD may involve the use of illicitly made opioids. It may also involve the use of prescription opioids that are obtained illicitly or used for non-medical purposes. The clinical management of OUD varies depending on the desired treatment intensity. The goal of therapy is to reduce or prevent opioid use and related harms. Pharmacotherapies, such as buprenorphine or methadone, are commonly used in the treatment of OUD.
Buprenorphine is a medication used in the treatment of OUD. It works to relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Buprenorphine is unique in that it offers several formulation choices and flexible administration options. Its pharmacology is also different given that it tightly binds to, and only partially agonizes, the mu-opioid receptors in the body.
In Canada, several formulations of buprenorphine are available for the treatment of OUD, including single-ingredient buccal film (currently only available through the Health Canada Special Access Program), buprenorphine extended-release injection, and subcutaneous implant, as well as the combination product of buprenorphine with naloxone in a sublingual tablet. A review of the comparative clinical effectiveness, safety, cost-effectiveness, and evidence-based guidelines on the different buprenorphine formulations may provide information on differences between products that can inform decisions in practice.
A limited literature search was conducted on key resources. Titles and abstracts of the retrieved publications were reviewed. Full-text publications were evaluated for final article selection according to predetermined selection criteria (population, intervention, comparator, outcomes, and study designs).
Clinical evidence based on 15 publications — two systematic reviews, three randomized controlled trials in four publications, six non-randomized studies, two economic evaluations (one of which was conducted within an included systematic review), and two evidence-based guidelines — was summarized.