RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Opioids before and after initiation of pregabalin in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

OBJECTIVES: To examine opioid prescription claims before and after initiation of pregabalin in patients with a diagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).

METHODS: This retrospective analysis used a national commercial database of integrated inpatient, outpatient, and prescription claims to identify adults with a DPN diagnosis code within 360 days prior to the first claim for pregabalin between January 1, 2006 and March 31, 2008. Prescription claims for pregabalin or opioids were analyzed in nine consecutive 60-day periods from 180 days before through 360 days after the first pregabalin claim. It was not possible to establish drug administration dates, compliance rates, indications for opioid use, or reasons for treatment discontinuation.

RESULTS: Of the 8004 adults who met eligibility criteria, 6080 (76%) received an opioid within the 180 days before and/or 360 days after their first prescription for pregabalin, including 3956 (49%) both before and after, 1580 (20%) after only, and 544 (7%) before only. The percentage of patients with pregabalin claims covering ≥20 of 60 days (within 60-day periods) was 99% (day 1-60), 63% (day 61-120), 50% (day 121-180), 45% (day 181-240), 42% (day 241-300), and 39% (day 301-360). The percentage of patients with opioid claims covering ≥20 of 60 days within the 60-day periods remained stable (range, 25-30%). Among patients with opioid claims, 73-76% received only short-acting opioids, 6-7% received only long-acting opioids, and 18-20% received both short- and long-acting opioids. In the first year, 982 (12%) patients had opioid claims covering ≥20 of 60 days in every 60-day period (i.e., persistent use of opioids). Coexisting musculoskeletal (95%) or neuropathic (61%) pain conditions were frequent.

CONCLUSION: A majority of patients with DPN receive an opioid before and/or after their first pregabalin claim. Pregabalin neither interferes with nor replaces opioid use for pain management in patients with DPN. Although nearly 1 in 8 patients received opioids throughout the study period, most claims were for short-acting opioids. The majority of this DPN sample had other pain conditions, including musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain conditions. These results highlight the frequency of opioid use with pregabalin, particularly short-acting opioids.

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