Opioid treatment program and community pharmacy collaboration for methadone maintenance treatment: results from a feasibility clinical trial.

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Background and aims

Pharmacy administration and dispensing of methadone for methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) can expand treatment access for opioid use disorder (OUD). This study investigated the feasibility and acceptability of a novel model permitting an opioid treatment program (OTP) physician to prescribe methadone for OUD treatment through collaboration with a partnered pharmacy.


Non-randomized, single-arm, open-label feasibility trial.


One OTP and one community pharmacy in the United States.


One OTP physician, two pharmacists and 20 MMT patients receiving between six and 13 take-home methadone doses at 5-160 mg/day.


Patients' methadone administration and dispensing of take-home doses was transferred from the OTP to the pharmacy for 3 months.


Primary outcome was medication adherence. Secondary outcomes were recruitment, treatment retention, substance use, counseling attendance at the OTP, pharmacist prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) use, safety and satisfaction.


Of 29 patients eligible at pre-screen, 20 patients (69%) enrolled into the study. Recruitment occurred from 6 August 2020 to 10 October 2020. Treatment retention rate at month 3 was 80% (16 of 20). Two participants returned early to the OTP because of a work/schedule change, one due to pregnancy and one following a non-study-related hospitalization. Medication adherence among 16 patients who were retained was 100%. Intervention fidelity was 100%. All participants attended random call-back visits. None showed evidence of tampering/diversion of methadone. Pharmacists checked the PDMP at all visits. All participants attended psychosocial counseling as planned. There were no positive urine screens for illicit opioid use and no study-related adverse events. All participants endorsed 'pharmacy is the right location for receiving methadone for MMT', 88% endorsed 'convenient or very convenient to receive methadone at the pharmacy' and 88% were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of treatment offered.


This feasibility trial has found pharmacy administration and dispensing of physician-prescribed methadone for methadone maintenance treatment to be feasible and acceptable.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Wu, Li-Tzy, William S John, Eric D Morse, Steve Adkins, Jennifer Pippin, Robert K Brooner and Robert P Schwartz (2021). Opioid treatment program and community pharmacy collaboration for methadone maintenance treatment: results from a feasibility clinical trial. Addiction (Abingdon, England). 10.1111/add.15641 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23696.

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)

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