MONDAY, Sept. 19, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For people with a diagnosis of opioid use disorder (OUD), entering a safer opioid supply (SOS) program can reduce adverse clinical outcomes and health care costs, according to a study published online Sept. 19 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Tara Gomes, Ph.D., from Unity Health Toronto, and colleagues conducted an interrupted time series analysis of residents of London, Ontario, with a diagnosis of OUD who entered the SOS program between January 2016 and March 2019 and matched individuals who were not exposed to the program. Emergency department visits, hospital admissions, admissions for infections, and health care costs were examined as primary outcomes.

The researchers found that after entry into the SOS program, the rates of emergency department visits (−14 visits/100), hospital admissions (−5 admissions/100), and health care costs not related to primary care or outpatient medications (−$922/person) decreased significantly, with no significant change seen in the rates of infections. The rate of emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and admissions for incident infections decreased significantly among SOS clients in the year after cohort entry compared with the year before (rate ratios, 0.69, 0.46, and 0.51, respectively); total health care costs not related to primary care or outpatient medications also declined significantly ($15,635 versus $7,310/person-year). There were no significant changes in any primary outcomes observed for unexposed individuals.

“Our findings provide preliminary evidence that SOS programs can play an important role in the expansion of treatment and harm reduction options available to people who use drugs at high risk of drug poisoning,” the authors write.

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