Cost effectiveness of buprenorphine vs. methadone for pregnant people with opioid use disorder

Arianna M. Robin, Alyssa R. Hersh, Catherine John, Aaron B. Caughey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the cost effectiveness of buprenorphine versus methadone in the management of opioid use disorder (OUD) during pregnancy. Methods: We designed a decision-analytic model to evaluate the costs and outcomes associated with buprenorphine compared to methadone for pregnant people with OUD. We used a theoretical cohort of 22,400 pregnant people, which is an estimation of pregnancies affected by OUD per year in the United States. Outcomes included maternal retention in maintenance treatment, neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, cerebral palsy, and maternal overdose in addition to cost and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). We used a willingness-to-pay threshold of $100,000/QALY. All model inputs were derived from the literature and varied in sensitivity analyses to assess the robustness of our baseline inputs. Results: In our theoretical cohort, treatment of OUD with buprenorphine during pregnancy resulted in 2413 fewer cases of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, 1089 fewer preterm births, 299 fewer cases of fetal growth restriction, 32 fewer stillbirths, and 13 fewer cases of cerebral palsy compared to methadone treatment. Despite lower rates of retention, buprenorphine treatment saved nearly 123 million healthcare dollars and resulted in 558 additional QALYs, making it the dominant strategy compared to methadone treatment. Our findings were robust over a wide range of assumptions. Conclusion: Our data suggest that buprenorphine should be considered a cost effective treatment option for OUD in pregnancy, as it is associated with improved neonatal outcomes compared to methadone despite the risk of treatment discontinuation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4918-4926
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number25
StatePublished - 2022


  • Opioid use
  • cost-effectiveness analysis
  • neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome
  • obstetrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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