News Release

Opportunities for addiction care and HIV prevention in Russia

Agonist therapy with methadone could use existing structure to reduce addiction, HIV

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Boston University School of Medicine

Opioid agonist therapy using methadone is regarded as one of the most effective treatments for opioid use disorders as well as helping to reduce HIV risks. Such therapy, however, is not yet available in Russia.

Researchers from Boston Medical Center (BMC), in collaboration with Brandeis University and Washington State University conducted a study to estimate costs and reduction in disease burden if this treatment were available in Russia and implemented into their health care system. These results were published online in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy.

The study estimated that providing methadone therapy to as few as 3% of people with opioid addiction 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 is the lack of such evidence-based prevention and treatment programs for people who use drugs,” said Dr. Vasiliy Vlassov, president of the Society for Evidence Based Medicine in Russia. “While there are almost a million people living with HIV in Russia, it is evident that we must continue efforts through smarter health policies.”

The findings suggest that implementing methadone therapy to treat opioid use disorders at existing facilities in Russia would have health benefits and be highly cost-effective.


The researchers involved in this study include: Bulat Idrisov, MD, MSc, and Karsten Lunze, MD, MPH, DrPH, from BMC and Boston University School of Medicine; Mayada Saadoun, MD, MPH, Tyler Morrill, MS, and Donald Shepard, PhD, from Brandeis University; and Sean M. Murphy, PhD, from Washington State University.

About Boston Medical Center

Boston Medical Center is a private, not-for-profit, 496-bed, academic medical center that is the primary teaching affiliate of Boston University School of Medicine. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New England. It offers specialized care for complex health problems and is a leading research institution, receiving more than $119 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2015. In 1997, BMC founded Boston Medical Center Health Plan, Inc., now one of the top ranked Medicaid MCOs in the country, as a non-profit managed care organization serving Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine are partners in the Boston HealthNet – 14 community health centers focused on providing exceptional health care to residents of Boston. For more information, please visit

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