Patient perspectives on community pharmacy administered and dispensing of methadone treatment for opioid use disorder: a qualitative study in the U.S.

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Pharmacy administration and dispensing of methadone treatment for opioid use disorder (PADMOUD) may address inadequate capability of opioid treatment programs (OTPs) in the US by expanding access to methadone at community pharmacies nationally. PADMOUD is vastly underutilized in the US. There is no published US study on OUD patients' perspectives on PADMOUD. Data are timely and needed to inform the implementation of PADMOUD in the US to address its serious opioid overdose crisis.


Patient participants of the first completed US trial on PADMOUD through electronic prescribing for methadone (parent study) were interviewed to explore implementation-related factors for PADMOUD. All 20 participants of the parent study were invited to participate in this interview study. Each interview was recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was conducted to identify emergent themes.


Seventeen participants completed the interview. Patients' perspectives on PADMOUD were grouped into five areas. Participants reported feasibility of taking the tablet formulation of methadone at the pharmacy and identified benefits from PADMOUD (e.g., better access, efficiency, convenience) compared with usual care at the OTP. Participants perceived support for PADMOUD from their family/friends, OTP staff, and pharmacy staff. PADMOUD was perceived to be a great option for stable patients with take-home doses and those with transportation barriers. The distance (convenience), office hours, and the cost were considered factors most influencing their decision to receive methadone from a pharmacy. Nonjudgmental communication, pharmacists' training on methadone treatment, selection of patients (stable status), workflow of PADMOUD, and protection of privacy were considered key factors for improving operations of PADMOUD.


This study presents the first findings on patient perspectives on PADMOUD. Participants considered pharmacies more accessible than OTPs, which could encourage more people to receive methadone treatment earlier and help transition stable patients from an OTP into a local pharmacy. The findings have timely implications for informing implementation strategies of PADMOUD that consider patients' views and needs.





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Publication Info

Wu, Li-Tzy, William S John, Paolo Mannelli, Eric D Morse, Alyssa Anderson and Robert P Schwartz (2023). Patient perspectives on community pharmacy administered and dispensing of methadone treatment for opioid use disorder: a qualitative study in the U.S. Addiction science & clinical practice, 18(1). p. 45. 10.1186/s13722-023-00399-6 Retrieved from

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Li-Tzy Wu

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education/Training: Pre- and post-doctoral training in mental health service research, psychiatric epidemiology (NIMH T32), and addiction epidemiology (NIDA T32) from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health (Maryland); Fellow of the NIH Summer Institute on the Design and Conduct of Randomized Clinical Trials.

Director: Duke Community Based Substance Use Disorder Research Program.

Research interests: COVID-19, Opioid misuse, Opioid overdose, Opioid use disorder, Opioid addiction prevention and treatment, Pain and addiction, Chronic diseases and substance use disorders, diabetes, pharmacy-based care models and services, medication treatment for opioid use disorder (MOUD), Drug overdose, Polysubstance use and disorders, cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, hallucinogens, stimulants, e-cigarette, SBIRT (substance use Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment), EHR-based research and intervention, data science, psychometric analysis (IRT), epidemiology of addictions and comorbidity, behavioral health care integration, health services research (mental health disorders, substance use disorders, chronic diseases), nosology, research design, HIV risk behavior. 

FUNDED Research projects (Principal Investigator [PI], Site PI, or Sub-award PI): 
R03: Substance use/dependence (PI).
R21: Treatment use for alcohol use disorders (PI).
R21: Inhalant use & disorders (PI).
R01: MDMA/hallucinogen use/disorders (PI).
R01: Prescription pain reliever (opioids) misuse and use disorders (PI).
R01: Substance use disorders in adolescents (PI).
R21: CTN Substance use diagnoses & treatment (PI).
R33: CTN Substance use diagnoses & treatment (PI).
R01: Evolution of Psychopathology in the Population (ECA Duke site PI).
R01: Substance use disorders and treatment use among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (PI).
UG1: SBIRT in Primary Care (NIDA, PI).
UG1: TAPS Tool, Substance use screening tool validation in primary care (NIDA, PI).
UG1: NIDA CTN Mid-Southern Node (Clinical Trials Network, PI).
UG1: EHR Data Element Study (NIDA, PI).
UG1: Buprenorphine Physician-Pharmacist Collaboration in the Management of Patients With Opioid Use Disorder (NIDA, PI).
PCORI: INSPIRE-Integrated Health Services to Reduce Opioid Use While Managing Chronic Pain (Site PI).
CDC R01: Evaluation of state-mandated acute and post-surgical pain-specific CDC opioid prescribing (Site PI).
Pilot: Measuring Opioid Use Disorders in Secondary Electronic Health Records Data (Carolinas Collaborative Grant: Duke PI).
R21: Developing a prevention model of alcohol use disorder for Pacific Islander young adults (Subaward PI, Investigator).
UG1: Subthreshold Opioid Use Disorder Prevention Trial (NIH HEAL Initiative) (NIDA supplement, CTN-0101, Investigator).
NIDA: A Pilot Study to Permit Opioid Treatment Program Physicians to Prescribe Methadone through Community Pharmacies for their Stable Methadone Patients (NIDA/FRI: Study PI).
UG1: Integrating pharmacy-based prevention and treatment of opioid and other substance use disorders: A survey of pharmacists and stakeholder (NIH HEAL Initiative, NIDA, PI).
UG1: NorthStar Node of the Clinical Trials Network (NIDA, Site PI).
R34: Intervention Development and Pilot Study to Reduce Untreated Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Opioid Use Disorders (Subaward PI, Investigator).
UG1: Optimal Policies to Improve Methadone Maintenance Adherence Longterm (OPTIMMAL Study) (NIDA, Site PI).
R01: Increasing access to opioid use disorder treatment by opening pharmacy-based medication units of opioid treatment programs (NIDA, PI)


Paolo Mannelli

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

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