Legislative and regulatory barriers to pharmacies dispensing buprenorphine for OUD





buprenorphine, naloxone, pharmacy, regulation, intolerance


Introduction: Buprenorphine (BUP) is increasingly recognized and utilized as a valuable medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder. This article focuses on the problem of regulatory restrictions on access to buprenorphine products without naloxone (mono-product), involving patients in one geographic area, but which may represent a more general access problem in the United States.

Design: In response to an audit by the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy, a pharmacy in northeast Tennessee designed a questionnaire to survey patient motivation for traveling long distances to fill their prescriptions for BUP, rather than buprenorphine/ naloxone (BNx, combo-product), and to document their satisfaction with treatment with the mono-product.

Results: Questionnaires were submitted by 194 patients, living in northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and southeast Kentucky. Significant, intolerable, side effects were reported by all patients in the survey prescribed BNx, but because of legislative and regulatory restrictions in their respective states, they were unable to obtain BUP closer to home. Consequently, they were required to drive significant distances from their homes to fill their prescriptions, a median distance of 52 miles, and in some cases as far as 216 miles round trip. Intolerable reactions included severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, allergies, and severe dysphoria. All patients tolerated BUP and were clinically well maintained on the mono-product.

Conclusion: Severe, intolerable reactions/side effects from the naloxone component of BNx are not uncommon, but legislative and regulatory restrictions on the mono-product prohibit providers and pharmacies in some states from prescribing and dispensing BUP. The participants in this qualitative study found it necessary to travel significant distances to obtain their prescribed medication, thereby potentially limiting access to this life-saving therapy.

Author Biographies

Daniel M. Strickland, MS, MD, FACOG

WJ Medical Associates, Warrensville, North Carolina

Jordon T. Baker, PharmD

Roan Mountain Pharmacy, Roan Mountain, Tennessee


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How to Cite

Strickland, D. M., and J. T. Baker. “Legislative and Regulatory Barriers to Pharmacies Dispensing Buprenorphine for OUD”. Journal of Opioid Management, vol. 19, no. 7, Oct. 2023, pp. 135-40, doi:10.5055/jom.2023.0807.