Researchers: Opioid agonist therapy would have health benefits and highly cost-effective in Russia
Despite the fact that The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed opioid agonist therapy (OAT) and harm reduction and included methadone in its list of essential medication, it’s not yet available in Russia Federation. Methadone is used by 59 countries and regarded as one of the most effective treatment for opioid use disorders. Furthermore, OAT proves its effectiveness to reduce risks of acquiring HIV.
The HIV epidemic in Russia is driven by injection drug use; up to 70% of HIV positive Russians have been infected through injection drug use.. Based on the latest report from the Russian Ministry of Health, 540,000 PWID currently live in Russia, and 40,500 are hospitalized annually for opioid use disorder (OUD).
A group of researchers from Boston Medical Center (BMC) have published the results of a study in the online edition of Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy. According to them, if implemented in Russia therapy to as few as 3% of people with opioid addiction, methadone therapy would result in almost 50,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) averted, a substantial reduction in disease burden, over 10 years at a cost of just over $17 million USD.
"The major factors contributing to the growing HIV epidemic in Russia are the lack of such evidence-based prevention and treatment programs for people who use drugs. While there are almost a million people living with HIV in Russia, it is evident that we must continue efforts through smarter health policies," said Dr. Vasiliy Vlassov, president of the Society for Evidence Based Medicine in Russia.