Publications & Reports

The cost and impact of distributing naloxone to people who are prescribed opioids to prevent opioid-related deaths: findings from a modelling study.

Nielsen S, Scott N, Tidhar T, Quiroga MDM, Lenton S, Dietze P
Behaviours and Health Risks, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Although most opioid-related mortality in Australia involves prescription opioids, most research to understand the impact of naloxone supply on opioid-related mortality has focused upon people who inject heroin. We aimed to examine the cost and probable impact of up-scaling naloxone supply to people who are prescribed opioids. DESIGN: Decision-tree model. Four scenarios were compared with a baseline scenario (the current status quo): naloxone scale-up between 2020 and 2030 to reach 30 or 90% coverage by 2030, among the subgroups of people prescribed either >/= 50 or >/= 100 mg of oral morphine equivalents (OME). SETTING: Australia. PARTICIPANTS: People who are prescribed opioids. MEASUREMENTS: Possible deaths averted, costs (ambulance and naloxone distribution) and cost per life saved for different scenarios of naloxone scale-up. FINDINGS: Maintaining the status quo, there would be an estimated 7478 [uncertainty interval (UI) = 6868-8275] prescription opioid overdose deaths between 2020 and 2030, resulting in Australian dollars (A$)51.9 million (49.4, 56.0) in ambulance costs. If naloxone were scaled-up to 90% of people prescribed > 50 mg OME, an estimated 657 (UI = 245, 1489) deaths could be averted between 2020 and 2030 (a 20% reduction in the final year of the model compared with the no naloxone scenario), with a cost of A$43 600 (20 800-110 500) per life saved. If naloxone were scaled-up to 30% of people prescribed > 50 mg OME an estimated 219 (82-496) deaths could be averted with the same cost per live saved. If naloxone were restricted to those prescribed > 100 mg OME, an estimated 130 (UI = 44-289) deaths would be averted if scaled-up to 30% or 390 (UI = 131-866) deaths averted if scaled-up to 90%, with the cost per life saved for both scenarios A$38 200 (UI = 12 400-97 400). CONCLUSION: In Australia, scaling-up take-home naloxone by 2030 to reach 90% of people prescribed daily doses of >/= 50 mg of oral morphine equivalents would be cost-effective and save more than 650 lives.

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