Medication Utilization for Alcohol Use Disorder in a Commercially Insured Population


Haiden A Huskamp, Sharon Reif, Shelly F Greenfield, Sharon-Lise T Normand, and Alisa B Busch. 2020. “Medication Utilization for Alcohol Use Disorder in a Commercially Insured Population.” J Gen Intern Med.


OBJECTIVE: Examine patterns of alcohol use disorder (AUD) medication use and identify factors associated with prescription fill among commercially insured individuals with an index AUD visit. DESIGN: Using 2008-2018 claims data from a large national insurer, estimate days to first AUD medication using cause-specific hazards approach to account for competing risk of benefits loss. PARTICIPANTS: Aged 17-64 with ≥ 1 AUD visit. MAIN MEASURE: Days to AUD medication fill. KEY RESULTS: A total of 13.3% of the 151,128 with an index visit filled an AUD prescription after that visit, while 69.8% lost benefits before filling and 17.0% remained enrolled but did not fill (median days observed = 305). Almost half (46.3%) of those who filled a prescription received substance use disorder (SUD) inpatient care within 7 days before the fill, and 63.4% received SUD outpatient care. Likelihood of medication use was higher for those aged 26-35, 36-45, and 46-55 years relative to 56-64 years (e.g., 26-35: hazard ratio = 1.29 [95% confidence interval 1.23-1.36]); those diagnosed with moderate/severe AUD (2.05 [1.98-2.12]), co-occurring opioid use disorder (OUD) (1.33 [1.26-1.39]), or severe mental illness (1.31 [1.27-1.35]); those with a chronic alcohol-related diagnosis (1.08 [1.04-1.12]); and those whose index visit was in an inpatient/emergency department (1.27 [1.23-1.31]) or intermediate care setting (1.13 [1.07-1.20]) relative to outpatient. Likelihood of use was higher in later years relative to 2008 (e.g., 2018:2.02 [1.89-2.15]) and higher for those who received the majority of AUD care in a practice with a psychiatrist/addiction medicine specialist (1.13 [1.10-1.16]). Likelihood of use was lower for those diagnosed with a SUD other than AUD or OUD (0.88 [0.85-0.92]), those with an acute alcohol-related condition (0.79 [0.75-0.84]), and males (0.71 [0.69-0.73]). CONCLUSIONS: While AUD medication use increased and was more common among individuals with greater severity, few patients who could benefit from medications are using them. More efforts are needed to identify and treat individuals in non-acute care settings earlier in their course of AUD.