ObjectiveThe aim of this study was to evaluate differences in risk of long-term opioid therapy after surgery among an opioid-naive population using varying cutoffs based on days supplied (DS), total morphine milligram equivalents (MME) dispensed, and quantity of pills (QTY) dispensed.
BackgroundIn response to the US opioid crisis, opioid prescription (Rx) limits have been implemented on a state-by-state basis beginning in 2016. However, there is limited evidence informing appropriate prescribing limits, and the effect of these policies on long-term opioid therapy.
MethodsUsing the MarketScan claims databases, we identified all opioid-naive patients undergoing outpatient surgery between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2015. We identified the initial postsurgical opioid prescribed, examining the DS, total MME, and QTY dispensed. We used Poisson to estimate adjusted risk differences and risk ratios of long-term opioid use comparing those receiving larger versus smaller volume of opioids.
ResultsWe identified 5,148,485 opioid-naive surgical patients. Overall, 55.5% received an opioid for postoperative pain, with median days supply =?5 and median total MME = 240. The proportion of patients receiving prescriptions above 7 DS increased from 11% in 2006 to 19% in 2015. Among those receiving postoperative opioids, 8% had long-term opioid use, and risk of long-term use was 1.16 times [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.10-1.25] higher among those receiving >7 days compared with those receiving ?7 days. Those receiving >400 total MME (15% of patients) were at 1.17 times (95% CI, 1.10-1.25) the risk of long-term use compared with those receiving ?400 MME.
ConclusionsBetween 2005 and 2015, the amounts of opioids prescribed for postoperative pain increased dramatically, and receipt of larger volume of opioids was associated with increased risk of long-term opioid therapy.
SUBMITTER: Young JC