Black Americans have experienced a higher rise in opioid overdose-related fatalities since 2010 than any other demographic category, currently there is no evidence at the national level describing ethnic or racial disparities in the use of drugs for opioid use disorder (OUD).
The study used Medicare claim information collected over the 2016–2019 period for a randomly assigned 40% group of a fee-for participants who identified as Black, Hispanic, or White; were eligible for the Medicare programme because of a disability; and experienced an index event related to OUD (hospitalization with an infection caused by injecting drugs; inpatient or residential recovery or detoxification care).
Buprenorphine, naltrexone, and naloxone were prescribed for the treatment of OUD. Opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines were administered to treat high risk conditions. In the 180 days following the index event, Researcher additionally evaluated the use of healthcare services.
Considering adjustments for user age, sex, the index event, the number of chronic comorbid diseases, state of domicile, and race and ethnic group, researchers estimated variations in outcomes. Different racial and ethnic access to methadone could not account for the variations in post-event prescriptions observed in the study, according to a follow-up analysis using data from 2020 to 2021.
The authors noted that although the research was restricted to Medicare a fee-for participants with disabilities and may not be generalizable to other groups, patients from this group should be considered a top priority for more effectively treatment for addiction because they represent a disproportionately high number of opioid-related overdoses. A further confounder for buprenorphine prescription that the study was unable to account for was methadone use for OUD during the main study period.
Despite equal health care utilisation across ethnic and racial backgrounds, the authors found that there are significant racial and ethnic discrepancies in the receipt of OUD drugs, especially among White and Black patients.
As per the New England Journal of Medicine, after an index occurrence associated with this disorder, patients with disabilities showed substantial ethnic and racial disparities in the receipt of drugs to treat OUD. These differences did not persist over time. All groups had a high prevalence of ambulatory visits, demonstrating that differences remained despite frequent contact with healthcare providers. (Supported by money from the National Institute on Ageing and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.)