Does Naltrexone Treatment for Alcohol Disorders Reduce Health-Care Costs?
Naltrexone can decrease relapse in patients with alcohol dependence, but its effect on health-care costs is unknown. Researchers analyzed 2000–2004 data from a large health-care insurance claims database and identified 3 patient groups: a naltrexone group with an alcohol-related diagnosis and R1 claims for naltrexone (n=1138); a control group with an alcohol-related diagnosis but no claims for naltrexone (n=3411); and a control group with no alcohol-related diagnosis or claims for naltrexone (n=3410). Patients in the control groups were matched 3:1 to a naltrexone-group subject by demographics, region, health plan type, and index (start-of-naltrexone) date. Adjusted multivariable regression models were used to assess differences in health-care costs between the groups 6 months before and 6 months after the index date.
- Compared with alcohol controls, a greater proportion of the naltrexone group had alcohol-related inpatient admissions (21% versus 1%) and outpatient office visits (50% versus 5%) in the pre-index period.
- Mean total health-care costs increased from the pre-index to the post-index period in each group (naltrexone group, $4,829 to $5,420; alcohol controls, $2,503 to $4,576; nonalcohol controls, $1,414 to $1,496).
- Mean alcohol-related health-care costs increased from the pre-index to the post-index period in the naltrexone group ($1,352 to $1,415; difference, +$63) and the alcohol control group ($68 to $882; difference, +$814).
- Multivariable models showed significantly less increase pre-index to post-index in total, alcohol-related, and nonalcohol-related health-care costs in the naltrexone group compared with alcohol controls.