Cost-effectiveness analysis of tapentadol immediate release for the treatment of acute pain

Clin Ther. 2010 Sep;32(10):1768-81. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2010.09.011.


Background: Tapentadol immediate-release (IR) tablets are indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe acute pain. In clinical trials, tapentadol IR effectively reduced moderate to severe pain with improved tolerability compared with oxycodone IR at doses providing comparable analgesia.

Objective: This analysis compared the cost-effectiveness of tapentadol IR with doses of oxycodone IR providing comparable analgesia in the outpatient treatment of acute postsurgical and nonsurgical pain. The perspective was that of a US managed care health plan as third-party payer.

Methods: A Markov model was developed to simulate clinical-economic outcomes for tapentadol IR 100 mg compared with oxycodone IR 15 mg in the treatment of acute postsurgical pain (3 days) and for tapentadol IR 50 mg compared with oxycodone IR 10 mg in the treatment of acute nonsurgical pain (10 days). The model simulated changes in pain relief; occurrence of opioid-related adverse events (AEs); opioid switching, discontinuation, and dose change; and number of quality-adjusted life-days (QALDs). Data inputs for the model were obtained from clinical trials, claims databases, surveys, Medicare fee schedules, and other published sources. Only direct costs were included. Drug costs were based on the wholesale acquisition cost. Prescription copayments were set at $5 for oxycodone IR and $25 for tapentadol IR. All costs were in 2008 US dollars. Sensitivity analyses were conducted on key model parameters.

Results: The cost of pain medication per patient was higher for tapentadol IR than for oxycodone IR in both the surgical pain setting ($15.23 vs $9.57, respectively) and the nonsurgical pain setting ($57.17 vs $21.31). However, this cost difference was offset by reductions in pharmacy and medical costs associated with the treatment of AEs and opioid switching/discontinuation, resulting in a lower mean treatment cost per patient for tapentadol IR 100 mg compared with oxycodone IR 15 mg in the treatment of acute surgical pain ($52.90 vs $55.99) and for tapentadol IR 50 mg compared with oxycodone IR 10 mg in the treatment of acute nonsurgical pain ($139.48 vs $144.79). Tapentadol IR also was associated with a greater mean number of treatment days with ≥30% improvement in pain intensity without opioid-related AEs compared with oxycodone IR and a greater mean number of QALDs (surgical pain: 1.73 vs 1.68; nonsurgical pain: 6.03 vs 4.92). Because both doses of tapentadol IR were dominant (ie, lower treatment costs and greater effectiveness) relative to the corresponding doses of oxycodone IR providing com- parable analgesia, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were not calculated.

Conclusion: The results of this model suggest that at doses providing comparable analgesia, tapentadol IR is a cost-effective alternative to oxycodone IR for the treatment of acute surgical and nonsurgical pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Opioid / economics*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Markov Chains
  • Models, Econometric
  • Oxycodone / administration & dosage
  • Oxycodone / adverse effects
  • Oxycodone / economics*
  • Oxycodone / therapeutic use
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / economics
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Pain, Postoperative / economics
  • Phenols / administration & dosage
  • Phenols / adverse effects
  • Phenols / economics*
  • Phenols / therapeutic use
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Solubility
  • Tablets
  • Tapentadol


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Phenols
  • Tablets
  • Oxycodone
  • Tapentadol