Emergency department (ED)-initiated buprenorphine was the most cost-effective method for those with an untreated opioid addiction, according to a new Yale study published in the journal Addiction that assessed 3 approaches for treating patients who screen positive for opioid addiction.

Along with ED-initiated buprenorphine, the researchers analyzed the cost effectiveness of referral alone (community-based treatment) and brief intervention with facilitated referral. Results showed that the mean costs over the next 30 days after ED visits were $1,752, $1,805, and $1,977 for ED-initiated buprenorphine, brief intervention, and referral, respectively. Additionally, the ED-initiated buprenorphine group were found to be almost twice as likely to be enrolled in addiction treatment and use less illicit opioids as the other 2 groups.

The authors stated that their findings were robust in a range of secondary analyses. “Even under the most conservative assumptions about willingness-to-pay (ie, that willingness-to-pay is zero), we find ED-initiated buprenorphine is most likely to be cost effective among treatments studied,” they wrote.

Related Articles

The authors cite how roughly just 1 in 5 individuals who needed treatment for opioid addiction received it in the past year (Park-Lee, E. et al. 2016) and less received buprenorphine. A similarly designed study should be initiated in other EDs to provide further data surrounding the benefits of initiating buprenorphine.

Continue Reading

“We were excited to learn that not only was ED-initiated buprenorphine more effective in engaging patients in treatment, but it was cost-effective,” said senior author Gail D’Onofrio, MD. “All insurance payers and healthcare systems should be interested in these results.”

For more information visit wiley.com.