Patients who had adverse reactions to opioids used to treat their post-surgical pain spent an average of three extra days in the hospital and had thousands of dollars in additional medical expenses, according to an industry funded study published in the Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy.
Researchers studied a national database of patients at 380 hospitals in the U.S. who had nearly 320,000 inpatient surgeries and received opioids for their post-surgical pain management. Over 12 percent of the patients had an opioid related adverse event (ORAE), such as respiratory depression, nausea, drowsiness, itching, dry mouth and constipation.
The analysis found that patients with ORAEs stayed longer in the hospital, were more likely to be re-admitted and had higher costs than patients who did not have an adverse reaction to opioids:
- Patients with OREAs were hospitalized 3.3 days longer (7.6 days vs. 4.2 days).
- Had a $4,707 average increase in hospitalization cost ($22,077 vs. $17,370).
- Had a higher readmission rate (15.8% vs. 9.4%) within 30 days for all causes.
“Based on a review of a large, nationally representative patient sample, we were able to correlate and quantify the impact of opioid-related adverse events on the length and cost of hospitalization after surgery,” said lead author Gary Oderda, PharmD, a professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy.
“Although opioids have long been the mainstay of postsurgical pain control, a growing body of evidence similar to ours suggests the need to re-examine the benefit-risk profile of an opioid-centric pain management paradigm and explore alternative modalities.”
Dr. Odera and his research team received funding for the study from Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: PCRX) a pharmaceutical company focused on developing non-opioid products for postsurgical pain control. Its lead product is Exparel, a long-lasting non-opioid analgesic that is designed to be injected into patients at the close of surgery.
“For years, we’ve had clinical evidence about the prevalence of opioid-related adverse events, particularly in certain patient populations, as illustrated by the recent Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert that detailed the risk for respiratory depression among specific patient types,” said Dave Stack, President and CEO of Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “Dr. Oderda’s research contributes to a growing body of socioeconomic evidence that quantifies the significant costs these adverse events impose on both the healthcare system and on patient quality of life, furthering the case for a new, non-opioid based approach to postsurgical pain management.”