Buprenorphine Effective in ER Patients With Opioid Addiction

HealthDay News — Patients addicted to opioids treated in a hospital emergency department do better when they receive medication to reduce opioid cravings, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.1

The study looked at 290 patients addicted to opioids who went to an emergency department. They received one of 3 treatments: a referral to addiction treatment services; a short interview, including discussion of treatment; or a brief interview and the medication buprenorphine. The patients given medication also continued treatment with their primary care doctor.

After 2 months of follow-up, the researchers found that patients who received buprenorphine were more likely to be in formal addiction treatment and to report reduced opioid use than those in the other 2 groups.

“The emergency department visit is an ideal opportunity to identify patients with opioid use disorder and initiate treatment and direct referral, similar to best practices for other diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” study co-leader Gail D’Onofrio, MD, chair of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a Yale news release.

The study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals provided buprenorphine through the NIDA.

Related Articles


  1. D’Onofrio G, Chawarski MC, O’Connor PG, et al. Emergency Department-Initiated Buprenorphine for Opioid Dependence with Continuation in Primary Care: Outcomes During and After InterventionJ Gen Intern Med. 2017; doi: 10.1007/s11606-017-3993-2 [Epub ahead of print]