Opioid abuse is a significant public health problem in the United States. We evaluate the clinical effectiveness and economic impact of abuse-deterrent formulations (ADF) of opioids relative to non-ADF opioids in preventing abuse. 

We developed a cost-effectiveness model simulating 2 cohorts of 100000 noncancer, chronic-pain patients newly prescribed either ADF or non-ADF extended-release (ER) opioids and followed them over 5 years, tracking new events of opioid abuse and opioid-related overdose deaths in addition to tracking 5-year cumulative costs of therapeutic use and abuse of ADF and non-ADF opioids. Patients in each cohort entered the model for therapeutic opioid use from where they could continue in that pathway, discontinue opioid use, or abuse opioids or die of opioid overdose-related or unrelated causes. In addition, one-way sensitivity and scenario analysis were conducted. 

Over a 5-year time period, using ADF opioids prevented an additional 2300 new cases of opioid abuse at an additional cost of approximately $535 million to the healthcare sector. Threshold analyses showed that a 40% decrease in ADF opioid costs was required to attain cost neutrality between the 2 cohorts, whereas a 100% effectiveness in abuse reduction still did not result in cost neutrality. A 43% decrease in diversion with ADFs relative to non- ADFs was required to attain cost neutrality. Including a societal perspective produced results directionally similar to the base-case analysis findings. 

ADF opioids have the potential to prevent new cases of opioid abuse, but at substantially higher costs to the health system.