- 29% of patients receiving extended-release (ER) opioids became long-term users; the most common noncancer-related indications for use were back pain and arthritis.
- ER opioids approved within the last 10 years were more likely prescribed for noncancer-related pain.
Why this matters
- Information about the diagnoses that led to long-term opioid use will inform efforts to design strategies to deter that long-term use.
- This study identified 1,041,628 adults initiating ER opioid therapy (≥120 days of enrollment) from MarketScan databases (2006-2015).
- Funding: None disclosed.
- 29% adults (n=298,405) were long-term users (≥90 days) of ER opioids; median length of prescribed use was 200 days.
- Back pain (65.8%) and arthritis (49.4%) were the most common pain diagnoses for ER opioid initiation.
- Among the long-term ER opioid users:
- 16% had procedure/diagnosis for cancer,
- 88% had noncancer-related chronic pain, and
- 9% had no pain-related diagnosis.
- Oxycodone (32% of initiators), fentanyl (21%), and morphine (18%) were commonly prescribed ER opioids at initiation.
- Evidence of cancer was seen in 16% vs 9% of patients when the drug was approved >10 years ago vs within 10 years, respectively.
- Findings may not be generalizable.
- Out-of-pocket transactions may have been missed.
Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm