Modeling the cost-effectiveness and impact on fatal overdose and initiation of buprenorphine–naloxone treatment at syringe service programs

Joëlla W. Adams, Alexandra Savinkina, Aaron Fox, Czarina N. Behrends, Rajapaksha W.M.A. Madushani, Jianing Wang, Avik Chatterjee, Alexander Y. Walley, Joshua A. Barocas, Benjamin P. Linas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Aim: To estimate the number of treatment initiations, averted fatal opioid overdoses and the cost-effectiveness associated with offering buprenorphine–naloxone (buprenorphine) treatment on-site within existing syringe service programs (SSPs) in Massachusetts, USA. Design, Setting and Participants: This was a cohort-based mathematical model and cost-effectiveness analysis. We derived model inputs from state and national surveillance data, clinical trials and observational cohort studies. We compared an intervention scenario where 30% of SSP clients initiated buprenorphine treatment on-site at least once annually to a status quo scenario where no buprenorphine was available on-site among community treatment providers in Massachusetts, 2020–30. In individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) we assumed that 80% of SSP clients had recently injected drugs and that treatment within SSPs would have similar or improved retention compared with standard-of-care buprenorphine programs, but higher rates of active opioid use while in treatment. Measurements: Number of treatment initiations (i.e. individuals began treatment on a medication for opioid use disorder or entered medically managed withdrawal), averted fatal opioid overdoses, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and life-time discounted costs from a health sector and a limited societal perspective. Findings: The status quo scenario resulted in 23 051 fatal overdoses and 1 511 613 treatment initiations over a 10-year simulation period. An intervention scenario with on-site SSP buprenorphine treatment averted 4797 (−20.8%) fatal opioid overdoses and resulted in 129 359 (+8.6%) additional treatment initiations compared with the status quo. The intervention scenario was the dominating scenario: providing OUD treatment through Massachusetts SSPs cost less (−$3612 per person) with patients accumulating more QALYs (0.2 per person) compared with the status quo scenario. Conclusions: Offering buprenorphine treatment on-site within syringe service programs has the potential to decrease fatal overdoses substantially, improve treatment engagement and save on costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2635-2648
Number of pages14
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Cost-effectiveness analysis
  • injection drug use
  • medications for opioid use disorder
  • opioid use disorder
  • simulation modeling
  • treatment access

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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