A pilot study about the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of electronic compliance monitoring in substitution treatment with buprenorphine—naloxone combination


  • Ulrich Tacke, MD, PhD
  • Hanna Uosukainen, MSci (Pharm)
  • Marjo Kananen, BSci (Pharm)
  • Kirsi Kontra, Pharm Lic
  • Hannu Pentikäinen, MD




compliance monitoring, microchip, buprenorphine, naloxone, substitution treatment


Objectives: The purpose of the study was to investigate whether or not compliance monitoring by microchip could offer a feasible method for reducing abuse and/or diversion of medication from unsupervised substitution treatment for opioid addiction.
Design: Naturalistic, 4-week pilot study in out patients.
Patients and interventions: All our patients (N = 12) on buprenorphine—naloxone combination (Suboxone®) received their medication for 6 days in a compliance-monitoring device (PharmaDDSi®, StoraEnso), which registers date and time of tablet removal. Patients were instructed to take all tablets as one dose. Time cues were displayed and discussed with the patients during their weekly visits for supervised drug administration and counseling.
Main outcome measures: Regularity of registered time cues, treatment costs in comparison with routine treatment, patients’ answers from a questionnaire on acceptability, and effect on drug diversion.
Results: Six patients showed good compliance, in two patients irregularities were minor, but in two others lack of adherence to treatment instructions was detected. Patients with several comorbid psychiatric diagnoses showed on an average the longest intervals between removal of first and last tablet of the daily dose. One-fourth of the patients reported that compliance monitoring had helped to avoid diversion. Total cost savings during the 4-week period was a reduction of 39 percent, which was mainly due to fewer visits to the clinic.
Conclusions: Compliance monitoring by PharmaDDSI® with weekly feedback was well accepted and subjectively increased compliance with substitution treatment. Future studies will show whether a technical solution for compliance monitoring in real time can help to reduce drug abuse and noncompliance in substitution treatment and other opioid treatments.

Author Biographies

Ulrich Tacke, MD, PhD

Addiction Psychiatry Unit, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.

Hanna Uosukainen, MSci (Pharm)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.

Marjo Kananen, BSci (Pharm)

Hospital Pharmacy, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.

Kirsi Kontra, Pharm Lic

Hospital Pharmacy, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.

Hannu Pentikäinen, MD

Addiction Psychiatry Unit, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.


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How to Cite

Tacke, MD, PhD, U., Uosukainen, MSci (Pharm), H., Kananen, BSci (Pharm), M., Kontra, Pharm Lic, K., & Pentikäinen, MD, H. (2018). A pilot study about the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of electronic compliance monitoring in substitution treatment with buprenorphine—naloxone combination. Journal of Opioid Management, 5(6), 321–329. https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2009.0032