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Trends and Characteristics of Buprenorphine-Involved Overdose Deaths Prior to and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Key Points

Question  Did buprenorphine-involved overdose deaths change after implementing prescribing flexibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Findings  In this cross-sectional study including 74?474 opioid-involved overdose deaths, buprenorphine was involved in 2.6% of opioid-involved overdose deaths during July 2019 to June 2021. Although monthly opioid-involved overdose deaths increased, the proportion involving buprenorphine fluctuated but did not increase.

Meaning  These findings suggest that actions to facilitate access to buprenorphine-based treatment for opioid use disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic were not associated with an increased proportion of overdose deaths involving buprenorphine; efforts are needed to expand more equitable and culturally competent access to and provision of buprenorphine-based treatment.


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