Only a small percentage of buprenorphine prescriptions go unfilled, even when patients have to pay more out of pocket, suggesting need to remove other barriers to continuous prescriptions.

When people get a prescription for the opioid addiction medication called buprenorphine, they almost always fill it — even if they have to pay more out of their own pocket, a study shows.

Whether it’s their first prescription for the medication, or they’ve been taking it for months, nearly all patients pick up the order from the pharmacy, according to the new findings from a University of Michigan team.

Even among those just starting on buprenorphine, higher costs aren’t a deterrent.

The researchers say this suggests that removing barriers that prevent clinicians from prescribing buprenorphine should be the main focus of efforts to increase the number of people with opioid addiction who get treated with buprenorphine.

“Our findings suggest that cost-sharing may not be a particularly strong barrier to buprenorphine dispensing,” said Kao-Ping Chua, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the U-M Opioid Research Institute who is an assistant professor in the U-M Medical School and School of Public Health.

“This may be because patients understand how effective buprenorphine is and are willing to pay for it.”

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