Buprenorphine physician-pharmacist collaboration in the management of patients with opioid use disorder: results from a multisite study of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network.


Background and aims

Physician and pharmacist collaboration may help address the shortage of buprenorphine-waivered physicians and improve care for patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). This study investigated the feasibility and acceptability of a new collaborative care model involving buprenorphine-waivered physicians and community pharmacists.


Nonrandomized, single-arm, open-label feasibility trial.


Three office-based buprenorphine treatment (OBBT) clinics and three community pharmacies in the United States.


Six physicians, six pharmacists, and 71 patients aged ≥18 years with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) OUD on buprenorphine maintenance.


After screening, eligible patients' buprenorphine care was transferred from their OBBT physician to a community pharmacist for 6 months.


Primary outcomes included recruitment, treatment retention and adherence, and opioid use. Secondary outcomes were intervention fidelity, pharmacists' use of prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), participant safety, and satisfaction with treatment delivery.


A high proportion (93.4%, 71/76) of eligible participants enrolled into the study. There were high rates of treatment retention (88.7%) and adherence (95.3%) at the end of the study. The proportion of opioid-positive urine drug screens (UDSs) among complete cases (i.e. those with all six UDSs collected during 6 months) at month 6 was (4.9%, 3/61). Intervention fidelity was excellent. Pharmacists used PDMP at 96.8% of visits. There were no opioid-related safety events. Over 90% of patients endorsed that they were "very satisfied with their experience and the quality of treatment offered," that "treatment transfer from physician's office to the pharmacy was not difficult at all," and that "holding buprenorphine visits at the same place the medication is dispensed was very or extremely useful/convenient." Similarly, positive ratings of satisfaction were found among physicians/pharmacists.


A collaborative care model for people with opioid use disorder that involves buprenorphine-waivered physicians and community pharmacists appears to be feasible to operate in the United States and have high acceptability to patients.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Wu, Li-Tzy, William S John, Udi E Ghitza, Aimee Wahle, Abigail G Matthews, Mitra Lewis, Brett Hart, Zach Hubbard, et al. (2021). Buprenorphine physician-pharmacist collaboration in the management of patients with opioid use disorder: results from a multisite study of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network. Addiction (Abingdon, England). 10.1111/add.15353 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22277.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



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)


Lynn Anne Bowlby

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine

Lawrence Howard Greenblatt

Professor of Medicine

Dr. Greenblatt focuses his professional efforts in 3 domains.  First, he provides care to a busy general internal medicine panel utilizing an approach that is both patient-centered and evidence-based.  Second, he is an active educator routinely providing clinical teaching to students and residents.   He routinely regularly provides faculty development in teaching and other skills for medical educators across many professions both in Durham and in the Academic Medicine Education Institute in Singapore.  Third, he has a community focus.  He serves as Medical Director for Northern Piedmont Community Care which provides practice support, care management, and population management primarily for Medicaid recipients.  He is currently working on developing systems and policy to improve opioid safety both for Duke Health System and the State of North Carolina.


Paolo Mannelli

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

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