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Addiction. 2018 Jul;113(7):1264-1273. doi: 10.1111/add.14171. Epub 2018 Mar 28.

Cost-effectiveness of hydromorphone for severe opioid use disorder: findings from the SALOME randomized clinical trial.

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Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, Providence Health Care, St Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Providence Crosstown Clinic, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.



Previous research has found diacetylmorphine, delivered under supervision, to be cost-effective in the treatment of severe opioid use disorder, but diacetylmorphine is not available in many settings. The Study to Assess Long-term Opioid Maintenance Effectiveness (SALOME) randomized controlled trial provided evidence that injectable hydromorphone is non-inferior to diacetylmorphine. The current study aimed to compare the cost-effectiveness of hydromorphone directly with diacetylmorphine and indirectly with methadone maintenance treatment.


A within-trial analysis was conducted using the patient level data from the 6-month, double-blind, non-inferiority SALOME trial. A life-time analysis extrapolated costs and outcomes using a decision analytical cohort model. The model incorporated data from a previous trial to include an indirect comparison to methadone maintenance.


A supervised clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


A total of 202 long-term street opioid injectors who had at least two attempts at treatment, including one with methadone (or other substitution), were randomized to hydromorphone (n = 100) or diacetylmorphine (n = 102).


We measured the utilization of drugs, visits to health professionals, hospitalizations, criminal activity, mortality and quality of life. This enabled us to estimate incremental costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and cost-effectiveness ratios from a societal perspective. Sensitivity analyses considered different sources of evidence, assumptions and perspectives.


The within-trial analysis found hydromorphone provided similar QALYs to diacetylmorphine [0.377, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.361-0.393 versus 0.375, 95% CI = 0.357-0.391], but accumulated marginally greater costs [$49 830 ($28 401-73 637) versus $34 320 ($21 780-55 998)]. The life-time analysis suggested that both diacetylmorphine and hydromorphone provide more benefits than methadone [8.4 (7.4-9.5) and 8.3 (7.2-9.5) versus 7.4 (6.5-8.3) QALYs] at lower cost [$1.01 million ($0.6-1.59 million) and $1.02 million ($0.72-1.51 million) versus $1.15 million ($0.71-1.84 million)].


In patients with severe opioid use disorder enrolled into the SALOME trial, injectable hydromorphone provided similar outcomes to injectable diacetylmorphine. Modelling outcomes during a patient's life-time suggested that injectable hydromorphone might provide greater benefit than methadone alone and may be cost-saving, with drug costs being offset by costs saved from reduced involvement in criminal activity.


Cost-effectiveness; economics; injectable diacetylmorphine; injectable hydromorphone; methadone maintenance therapy; opioid dependence


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