Harm Reduct J. 2022 Oct 13;19(1):113. doi: 10.1186/s12954-022-00695-5.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Given the ongoing opioid crisis, novel interventions to treat severe opioid use disorder (OUD) are urgently needed. Injectable opioid agonist therapy (iOAT) with diacetylmorphine or hydromorphone is effective for the treatment of severe, treatment-refractory OUD, however barriers to implementation persist. Intravenous buprenorphine for the treatment of OUD (BUP iOAT) has several possible advantages over traditional iOAT, including a safety profile that might enable take-home dosing. We aimed to characterize injecting practices among real-world populations of persons who regularly inject buprenorphine, as well as associated adverse events reported in order to inform a possible future BUP iOAT intervention.
METHODS: We conducted a systematic review. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO from inception through July 2020 and used backwards citation screening to search for publications reporting on dose, frequency among persons who regularly inject the drug, or adverse events associated with intravenous use of buprenorphine. The review was limited to English language publications and there was no limitation on study type. Study quality and risk of bias was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Narrative synthesis was used in reporting the results.
RESULTS: Eighty-eight studies were included in our review. Regular injection of buprenorphine was identified across diverse settings world-wide. Daily dose of oral buprenorphine injected was < 1-12 mg. Frequency of injection was 0-10 times daily. Adverse events could be characterized as known side effects of opioids/buprenorphine or injection-related complications. Most studies were deemed to be of low quality.
CONCLUSIONS: Extramedical, intravenous use of buprenorphine, continues to be documented. BUP iOAT may be feasible and results may inform the development of a study to test the efficacy and safety of such an intervention. Future work should also examine acceptability among people with severe OUD in North America. Our review was limited by the quality of included studies.