A recent study evaluates the impact of a digital therapeutic for opioid use disorder on health utilities and overall costs.
Opioid use disorder
The US continues to suffer from the impact of the opioid epidemic, which causes close to 50,000 deaths every year. This issue is also likely to be exacerbated by recent economic downturn, social turmoil and the ongoing health impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these factors have made it even more challenging to prevent and manage opioid use disorder (OUD).
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, OUD was already one of the costliest health conditions in the US, generating ~ $40-70 USDB in direct medical costs annually. Moreover, the recent increase in opioid related relapses are expected to further increase the use of emergency departments and inpatient stays, which are the main cost drivers in this condition.
The CDC considers medication-assisted therapy/medications for opioid use disorder (MAT/MOUD) as the best treatment option for OUD. However, access to trained professionals and the high drop-out rate from MAT/MOUD, represent significant gaps in the treatment of OUD.
Prescription digital therapeutics
In this paper, published in Postgraduate Medicine, researchers evaluated the value of a non-drug prescription digital therapeutic (PDT) – reSET-O. This PDT delivers evidence-based neurobehavioral treatment for OUD. It helps overcome barriers associated with access to care, stigma and also social distancing. Although shown to be cost effective in clinical trials and efficacious in real-world evidence studies, information on its value for money will be important to inform policy discussion. As a result, researchers in this study evaluated the impact of reSET-O on health utilities and also assessed its overall cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained versus treatment-as-usual (TAU).
Over 12 weeks, the team compared reSET-O plus TAU to TAU alone (buprenorphine, face-to-face counselling, and contingency management). They found that the addition of reSET-O to management decreased the total healthcare costs by -$131. It also resulted in post-treatment utility value with a corresponding gain of 0.003 QALYs. Overall, when used adjunctively to TAU, reSET-O was economically dominant.
This paper shows that reSET-O is a cost-effective treatment option for OUD. It emphasises the limited economic risk of providing access to reSET-O as part of the effort to help OUD patients.
Image credit: By Racool_studio – freepik