2018 PEP Fellow Elizabeth Evans’ research on the cost-effectiveness of evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder is covered by the LA Times and Reuters

Elizabeth Evans

Elizabeth Evans, 2018 PEP Fellow, co-authored an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine and covered in the Los Angeles Times Reuters, and several local media outlets that found that evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder could save billions of taxpayer dollars. Findings were based on a cost-effectiveness analysis model that compared California's observed standard of care, in which more than half of patients initiate opioid use disorder treatment with mandated, short-term, medically managed withdrawal, with a hypothetical alternative, in which all patients have immediate access to opioid agonist treatment (OAT) with methadone of unrestricted duration. The researchers found that treatment with immediate and indefinite OAT for all treatment recipients costs less (by $78,257) than with the observed standard of care. Cost savings were primarily due to lower costs from crime, health resource use, and HIV antiretroviral therapy.  Also, patients with immediate and indefinite access to OAT remained in treatment longer, accumulated more quality adjusted life years, and had lower rates of HIV seroconversion and mortality. It was estimated that if all Californians starting treatment of opioid use disorder in 2014 had received immediate and indefinite access to OAT, the total lifetime savings to society could be as high as $3.8 billion. Prominent addiction physicians also published an opinion piece on the study's findings. Read more here.