Association Between Dual Trajectories of Opioid and Gabapentinoid Use and Healthcare Expenditures Among US Medicare Beneficiaries

Lili Zhou, Sandipan Bhattacharjee, C. Kent Kwoh, Daniel C. Malone, Patrick J. Tighe, Gary M. Reisfield, Marion Slack, Debbie L. Wilson, Wei Hsuan Lo-Ciganic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-205
Number of pages10
JournalValue in Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Medicare
  • gabapentinoids
  • health expenditures
  • opioids
  • trajectories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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