Racial‒Ethnic Disparities of Buprenorphine and Vivitrol Receipt in Medicaid


      Expanding access to medications for opioid use disorder is a cornerstone to addressing the opioid overdose epidemic. However, recent research suggests that the distribution of medications for opioid use disorder has been inequitable. This study analyzes the racial‒ethnic disparities in the receipt of medications for opioid use disorder among Medicaid patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder.


      Medicaid claims data from the Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System for the years 2017–2019 were used for the analysis. Logistic regression models estimated the odds of receiving buprenorphine and Vivitrol within 180 days after initial opioid use disorder diagnosis on the basis of race‒ethnicity. Analysis was conducted in 2022.


      Non-Hispanic Black people, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaskan Native/Asian/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander people, and Hispanic people had 42%, 12%, and 22% lower odds of buprenorphine receipt and 47%, 12%, and 20% lower odds of Vivitrol receipt, respectively, than non-Hispanic White people, controlling for clinical and demographic patient variables.


      This study suggests that there are racial‒ethnic disparities in the receipt of buprenorphine and Vivitrol among Medicaid patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder after adjusting for demographic, geographic, and clinical characteristics. The potential strategies to address these disparities include expanding the workforce of providers who can prescribe medications for opioid use disorder in low-income communities and communities of color and allocating resources to address the stigma in medications for opioid use disorder treatment.
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