Pharmacy-based methadone treatment in the US: views of pharmacists and opioid treatment program staff.

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The US federal regulations allow pharmacy administration and dispensing of methadone for opioid use disorder (PADMOUD) to increase the capability of opioid treatment programs (OTPs) in providing methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) for opioid use disorder (OUD) as part of a medication unit. However, there is a lack of research data from both pharmacy and OTP staff to inform the implementation of PADMOUD.


Staff of a pharmacy (n = 8) and an OTP (n = 9) that participated in the first completed US trial on PADMOUD through electronic prescribing for methadone (parent study) were recruited to participate in this qualitative interview study to explore implementation-related factors for PADMOUD. Each interview was recorded and transcribed verbatim. NVivo was used to help identify themes of qualitative interview data. The Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) framework was used to guide the coding and interpretation of data.


Six pharmacy staff and eight OTP staff (n = 14) completed the interview. Results based on PARIHS domains were summarized, including evidence, context, and facilitation domains. Participants perceived benefits of PADMOUD for patients, pharmacies, OTPs, and payers. PADMOUD was considered to increase access for stable patients, provide additional patient service opportunities and revenues for pharmacies/pharmacists, enhance the capability of OTPs to treat more new patients, and reduce patients' cost when receiving medication at a pharmacy relative to an OTP. Both pharmacy and OTP staff were perceived to be supportive of the implementation of PADMOUD. Pharmacy staff/pharmacists were perceived to need proper training on addiction and methadone as well as a protocol of PADMOUD to conduct PADMOUD. Facilitators include having thought leaders to guide the operation, a certification program to ensure proper training of pharmacy staff/pharmacist, having updated pharmacy service software or technology to streamline the workflow of delivering PADMOUD and inventory management, and reimbursement for pharmacists.


This study presents the first findings on perspectives of PADMOUD from both staff of a community pharmacy and an OTP in the US. Finding on barriers and facilitators are useful data to guide the development of strategies to implement PADMOUD to help address the US opioid crisis.





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Publication Info

Wu, Li-Tzy, Paolo Mannelli, William S John, Alyssa Anderson and Robert P Schwartz (2023). Pharmacy-based methadone treatment in the US: views of pharmacists and opioid treatment program staff. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 18(1). p. 55. 10.1186/s13011-023-00563-w 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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