Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the prevalence of opioid agonist therapy discontinuation in Ontario, Canada

A population-based time-series analysis

Opioid agonist therapy (OAT) with methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone reduces the risk of opioid-related death in patients with opioid use disorder. Public health measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns that access to OAT could be negatively impacted. To reduce the impact of these changes on OAT recipients, new guidance for the management of OAT was released on March 22, 2020 to increase access to take-home doses, utilize telephone or virtual clinical assessments, and reduce the requirement for urine drug screens. However, it is unknown how the pandemic and these new guidance changes have impacted treatment adherence among patients on OAT.

This study investigated the impact of the pandemic and the associated changes in OAT guidance on treatment discontinuation.

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