The Prescription of Anticraving Medication and its Economic Consequences

Klinik für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Psychosomatik, Klinikum Arnsberg, Arnsberg, Germany
Holzbach, Rüdiger;
Krankenhaus Maria Hilf, Warstein, Germany
Stammen, Gunnar;
AOK NordWest, Dortmund, Germany
Kirchhof, Ute;
LVR-Hospital Essen, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
Scherbaum, Norbert

Importance: According to recent studies, only a small proportion of alcoholics in the system for addiction treatment receive expedited treatment [Rehm et al.: Sucht 2014;60:93–105] and that those who are untreated are at risk of harmful and dependent alcohol consumption. This is associated with significantly negative effects on morbidity, mortality, and quality of life [Kraus et al.: Sucht 2010;56:337–347]. As a result, not only individuals and their environment suffer but there is also a health economic impact.

Objective: How often do patients with a primary or secondary diagnosis of alcohol dependence who have been discharged from inpatient treatment receive anticraving medication in the follow-up period of 6 months?

Design, Setting, and Participants: Based on data from a statutory health insurance in Germany, 12,958 patients were investigated regarding alcohol dependence, rates for readmission to hospital, and prescription of anticraving drugs. In addition, outpatient and inpatient treatment costs were calculated.

Main Outcomes and Measures: There will be an examination of how often anticraving medications are prescribed and what the economic consequences are.

Results: Two hundred and eighty-eight (2.22%) patients received anticraving medication, 98 (0.76%) in the first 6 months after inpatient treatment. Fifty-nine of the 288 patients were monitored with a pre- and postcomparison over a 90-day period. Inpatient treatment fell from 0.83 times (±1.10) during the 3 months afterward to 0.79 (±1.01). On average, the duration of an inpatient stay before anticraving treatment ( n = 29) was 17.34 days (±14.37), with an average cost of EUR 4,142.70 (±2,721.28). Among the anticraving treatment group, this fell to 14.03 days (±9.96) with an average cost of EUR 3,685.43 (±2,307.67). Overall, the average outpatient and inpatient treatment costs dropped from EUR 1,533.88 before treatment to EUR 1,462.76 after treatment. If this is extrapolated to the whole group, it leads to between EUR 921,500 and EUR 6.6 million saving for a health insurance company.

Conclusion: Anticraving medications are hardly ever prescribed. Their routine use could reduce hospital readmission rates and save on health-care costs.


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