OBJECTIVE: A risk evaluation and mitigation strategy for extended-release and long-acting (ER/LA) opioid analgesics was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012. Our objective was to assess frequency of opioid tolerance and urine drug testing for individuals initiating ER/LA opioid analgesics.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
SETTING: Sentinel, a distributed database with electronic healthcare data on >190 million predominantly commercially insured members.
PATIENTS, PARTICIPANTS: Members under age 65 initiating ER/LA opioid analgesics between January 2009 and December 2013.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): We examined the proportion of opioid-tolerant-only ER/LA opioid analgesic initiates meeting tolerance criteria: receipt of ≥30 mg oxycodone equivalents per day in 7 days prior to the first opioid-tolerant-only dispensing. We separately examined the proportion of new users of extended-release oxycodone (ERO) and other ER/LA opioid analgesics with a claim for a urine drug test in the 30 days prior to, and separately for the 183 days after, dispensing.
RESULTS: We identified 79,824 ERO, 7,343 extended-release hydromorphone, and 91,778 transdermal fentanyl opi-oid-tolerant-only episodes. Tolerance criteria were met in 64 percent of ERO, 64 percent of extended-release hydromorphone and 40 percent of transdermal fentanyl episodes. We identified 210,581 incident ERO and 311,660 other ER/LA opioid analgesic episodes. Use of urine drug testing for ERO compared with other ER/LA opioid analgesics was: 4 percent vs 14 percent respectively in the 30 days prior to initiation and 9 percent vs 23 percent respectively in the 183 days following initiation.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest potential areas for improving appropriate ER/LA opioid analgesic prescribing practices.