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The Howard Street Method: A Community Pharmacy-Led Low Dose Overlap Buprenorphine Initiation Protocol for Individuals Using Fentanyl

Buprenorphine treatment significantly reduces morbidity and mortality for people with opioid use disorder. Fear of precipitated withdrawal remains a barrier to starting buprenorphine for patients who use synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl. We aim to evaluate the development and implementation of a buprenorphine low dose overlap initiation (LDOI) protocol in an urban public health community pharmacy.

We performed a retrospective chart review of patients with nonprescribed fentanyl use (N = 27) to examine clinical outcomes of a buprenorphine LDOI schedule, named the Howard Street Method, dispensed from a community pharmacy in San Francisco from January to December 2020.

We found that a LDOI blister-pack protocol based at a community pharmacy was a viable intervention for starting buprenorphine treatment and a promising alternative method for buprenorphine initiation in an underresourced, safety-net population of people using fentanyl.

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