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Study Examining Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Finds Greater Barriers to Care During Pandemic

Study Examining Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Finds Greater Barriers to Care During Pandemic

  • 85% of participants agreed that patients with OUD experienced more barriers to care during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Study presented at American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Virtual 2021

Richmond, VA, April 22, 2021- Indivior PLC (LON: INDV) today announced findings from a qualitative study examining the impact of COVID-19 on opioid use disorder (OUD) management and medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) access in the U.S. which found that 85% of participants agreed that patients with OUD experienced more barriers to care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from the study, entitled “Impact of COVID-19 on OUD Management and MOUD Access in the US,” were presented at the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) 2021 virtual meeting. The study was conducted to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the management of OUD in the US from both provider and payer perspectives, as well as to gain insight into strategies adopted by healthcare organizations to overcome access barriers to OUD care and MOUD.

The study found that OUD patients faced even greater barriers to care during the COVID-19 pandemic than usual. Providers and payers acknowledged that patients had limited access to clinics and healthcare personnel as treatment facilities cancelled appointments and reduced hours of operation.Twenty percent of respondents reported increased relapse rates, 45% reported increase in overdose rates, and 45% reported increased emergency department visits. A decline in medication adherence was reported by 25% of respondents. One fourth of respondents reported a switch to extended-release formulations of MOUD and another 25% reported an increase in MOUD dose. There also was a higher demand for psychosocial support during the pandemic.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people struggling with opioid use disorder have experienced a decline in treatment, management, and health outcomes. This study revealed that while telemedicine and other solutions have emerged, OUD patients are still suffering and need additional support to help them with their recovery,” said Murali Gopal M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Indivior.

In addition to impacting patient care, the COVID-19 pandemic also impacted healthcare organizations overall. Twenty percent of respondents reported a decrease in the number of patients with OUD being seen due to limited face-to-face contact and reduced clinic hours. These resulted from the shift in medical resources to the treatment of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 including bed space, funding, and reassignment of medical personnel. Barriers to monitoring OUD patients, including patient transportation, income, and less access to counseling, were also reported.

The study also showed that many healthcare organizations implemented solutions designed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on patients and organizations. Telemedicine was the most common solution adopted by healthcare organizations. Seventy-five percent of respondents stated that patients with OUD had a positive response to telemedicine. However, telemedicine was not as effective for certain patient subpopulations, including elderly patients and those with socioeconomic vulnerabilities due to a lack of reliable access to the internet and/or technology.  Additional solutions included renewing medications without face-to-face visits or extending the duration of refills. Frequent remote outreach was also helpful, as was curbside urine drug testing. Support provided by pharmaceutical manufacturers for patient education, emotional support hotlines, and patient assistance programs were recommended by respondents.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on the opioid crisis in the U.S. More than 87,000 people died from drug overdose in the 12-month period ending in September 2020, a 29 percent increase over the previous year, ” said Mark Crossley, Chief Executive Officer, Indivior. “This study provided new insights into the evolution of OUD treatment during the pandemic, and it is our hope that research such as this may help clinicians determine how best they can help patients access evidence-based treatment and the supports they need to move onto a path to recovery.

About the Study

This qualitative study was conducted via double-blinded, 30-minute telephone interviews between November 12 and December 7, 2020. A total of 20 participants were interviewed, 17 healthcare providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical pharmacists, and 3 payers. Participants represented various practice settings including large/small hospitals and health systems, criminal justice, rural/non-rural private practice, and opioid treatment centers.

About Indivior

Indivior is a global pharmaceutical company working to help change patients’ lives by developing medicines to treat addiction and serious mental illnesses. Our vision is that all patients around the world will have access to evidence-based treatment for the chronic conditions and co-occurring disorders of addiction. Indivior is dedicated to transforming addiction from a global human crisis to a recognized and treated chronic disease.

Building on its global portfolio of opioid dependence treatments, Indivior has a pipeline of product candidates designed to both expand on its heritage in this category and potentially address other chronic conditions and co-occurring disorders of addiction, including alcohol use disorder. Headquartered in the United States in Richmond, VA, Indivior employs more than 700 individuals globally and its portfolio of products is available in over 40 countries worldwide. Visit to learn more. Connect with Indivior on LinkedIn by visiting

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