"This study indicates that the SSP+MOUD [Syringe Service Program + Medications for Opioid Use Disorder] combination program is an effective harm-reduction strategy to prevent HCV cases among opioid IDUs and is cost-effective if payers are willing to pay $4,699 or more per avoided case of HCV. There is evidence to support the effectiveness of these harm-reduction strategies in reducing injection-risk behaviors as well as reducing HCV and HIV transmission.17,18 The base-case analysis suggested that (a) the combination strategy, compared with SSP alone, would cost $4,699 to avoid an additional HCV case; (b) the combination and the SSP-alone groups dominated both the MOUD-alone and no intervention groups; and (c) the MOUD-alone group dominated the no intervention group.
"Most of the recent studies on the cost-effectiveness of SSP and MOUD alone and in combination were conducted outside the United States, were conducted from a societal or health care system perspective, did not directly compare the interventions used in the base case, had moderate evidence of the cost-effectiveness in some sites, estimated the outcome in terms of quality-adjusted life years, and did not examine the number of cases avoided in a 1-year time horizon.19,31,32,37-39 To date, studies have not examined the cost-effectiveness of these harm-reduction strategies in terms of incremental cost savings per HCV case avoided, and none has undertaken a public payer perspective in the United States.
"Based on the analysis, the combination of MOUD and SSP appears to be the most effective policy, from a public health perspective. By including both the direct medical and nonmedical costs due to injection drug use-related crime in the calculation, the combination program will save public payers $347,573 per HCV case avoided compared with costs for no intervention. SSP-alone and MOUD-alone interventions will also save public payers $363,821 and $317,428, respectively. Given that the total direct economic burden of HCV-related liver disease in the United States is estimated to be $6.5 billion ($4.3 to $8.2 billion) annually and 2.4 million people in the United States live with an HCV infection, these interventions could dramatically reduce HCV-related annual costs.7,40,41 The savings associated with these interventions would allow public institutions to redirect funds toward other health care services or public service investments. In addition, the results indicated that all the harm-reduction strategies were less costly and more effective than no intervention even though they required some up-front investments. It is also important to point out that the largest benefits could occur in the future. This is because HCV-related liver disease such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma may take several years to occur, and SSPs are associated with reducing the risk of other diseases transmitted via needle sharing, such as HIV.23,26
"The 1-way sensitivity analysis shows that the base-case cost effectiveness analysis was sensitive to the probabilities of injection-risk behavior for the SSP and SSP+MOUD combination groups, probability of no HCV with no intervention, and costs of MOUD and HCV antivirals. Despite varying the model parameters by ± 50%, the base-case ICER was not sensitive to a majority of the key variables in the model. Considering that the cost for the combination intervention was assumed to be the sum of the costs of the SSP and MOUD individual interventions, our results can be considered as conservative estimates, given that in reality, savings and economies of scale can be achieved by a combination of efforts."
Ijioma SC, Pontinha VM, Holdford DA, Carroll NV. Cost-effectiveness of syringe service programs, medications for opioid use disorder, and combination programs in hepatitis C harm reduction among opioid injection drug users: a public payer perspective using a decision tree. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2021;27(2):137-146. doi:10.18553/jmcp.2021.27.2.137