A buprenorphine prescribing service was set up for opiate-dependent patients and the initiative was then audited using 11 standards.
Thirty-three patients met inclusion criteria for opiate detoxification and 7 successfully completed detoxification, equating to a number needed to treat of 5. However, 2-year follow-up data showed no clear advantage for these 7 patients compared with 9 patients who had failed detoxification at the outset. Only 5 of the 11 audit standards were satisfied.
The results suggest that a buprenorphine prescribing service may be of benefit to opiate-dependent patients in the short term. However, the audit standards identified may be unrealistic because of the likely lack of adherence of this patient group. Further work is needed to establish the feasibility of this treatment modality in ‘real-world’ settings.
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