Objectives: Little is known about relationships between opioid- and gabapentinoid-use patterns and healthcare expenditures that may be affected by pain management and risk of adverse outcomes. This study examined the association between patients’ opioid and gabapentinoid prescription filling/refilling trajectories and direct medical expenditures in US Medicare. Methods: This cross-sectional study included a 5% national sample (2011-2016) of fee-for-service beneficiaries with fibromyalgia, low back pain, neuropathy, or osteoarthritis newly initiating opioids or gabapentinoids. Using group-based multitrajectory modeling, this study identified patients’ distinct opioid and gabapentinoid (OPI-GABA) dose and duration patterns, based on standardized daily doses, within a year of initiating opioids and/or gabapentinoids. Concurrent direct medical expenditures within the same year were estimated using inverse probability of treatment weighted multivariable generalized linear regression, adjusting for sociodemographic and health status factors. Results: Among 67 827 eligible beneficiaries (mean age ± SD = 63.6 ± 14.8 years, female = 65.8%, white = 77.1%), 11 distinct trajectories were identified (3 opioid-only, 4 gabapentinoid-only, and 4 concurrent OPI-GABA trajectories). Compared with opioid-only early discontinuers ($13 830, 95% confidence interval = $13 643-14 019), gabapentinoid-only early discontinuers and consistent low-dose and moderate-dose gabapentinoid-only users were associated with 11% to 23% lower health expenditures (adjusted mean expenditure = $10 607-$11 713). Consistent low-dose opioid-only users, consistent high-dose opioid-only users, consistent low-dose OPI-GABA users, consistent low-dose opioid and high-dose gabapentinoid users, and consistent high-dose opioid and moderate-dose gabapentinoid users were associated with 14% to 106% higher healthcare expenditures (adjusted mean expenditure = $15 721-$28 464). Conclusions: Dose and duration patterns of concurrent OPI-GABA varied substantially among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries. Consistent opioid-only users and all concurrent OPI-GABA users were associated with higher healthcare expenditures compared to opioid-only discontinuers.
- health expenditures
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health