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Concomitant use of benzodiazepines in chronic pain patients adherent to extended-release tapentadol or oxycodone treatment—A retrospective claims analysis

Vladimir Zah, PhD, Martina Imro, MSc, Simona Tatovic, MSc, Michael DeGeorge, PharmD, Steven D. Passik, PhD, Djurdja Vukicevic, PhD(c)


Objective: To compare concomitant benzodiazepine (BZDs) use among chronic pain patients adherent to extended-release tapentadol (TapER) or oxycodone (OxnER) and estimate the number of lives potentially saved by switching patients to the less BZD coprescribed treatment.

Design: Retrospective database study.

Setting: Patients were identified using the IBM MarketScan® Commercial Database. The opioid overdose death estimates were obtained from the US national mortality register and were used to estimate the number of lives potentially saved by switching patients to the opioid treatment with lower rates of BZD coprescribing.

Patients, Participants: The authors identified 30,213 chronic pain patients between October 2012 and March 2016. After propensity score matching, N = 2,355 and N = 6,761 patients were adherent (proportion of days covered 80 percent) to TapER and OxnER, respectively.

Interventions: TapER versus OxnER, during the 180-day treatment.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Proportions of BZD coprescribing, BZD dosing patterns in matched patients, and the estimated number of lives potentially saved by the opioid treatment switch.

Results: TapER patients were less coprescribed BZDs during the treatment period (38.9 percent versus 49.2 percent, OR = 0.659, p < 0.001), and had fewer days of BZD supply per patient (mean: 49.6 versus 70.2 days, p < 0.001) with similar BZD average daily dose. Due to less frequent coprescribing of BZDs with TapER, it is estimated that ~800 deaths may have been avoided in the U.S. as a result of switching patients from OxnER to TapER.

Conclusions: Among treatment-adherent patients, TapER patients had fewer BZD coprescriptions than OxnER patients had. Moreover, when BZDs were coprescribed, those BZD prescriptions were for shorter periods of time. Prospective studies are warranted to explore rates and consequences of BZD coprescribing among opioids.


long-acting opioids, benzodiazepines, concomitant treatment, tapentadol ER, oxycodone ER

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