Cost-effectiveness of tapentadol prolonged release compared with oxycodone controlled release in the UK in patients with severe non-malignant chronic pain who failed 1st line treatment with morphine

J Med Econ. 2012;15(4):724-36. doi: 10.3111/13696998.2012.670174. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


Objectives: The aim of this analysis was to assess the cost-effectiveness of tapentadol PR (prolonged release) compared with oxycodone CR (controlled release) in severe non-malignant chronic pain patients in whom controlled release morphine was ineffective or not tolerated.

Methods: A Markov model was developed to assess costs and benefits over a 1-year time horizon from the National Health Service perspective in the UK. Patients could either continue on 2nd line therapy or switch to 3rd line opioid due to lack of efficacy or poor tolerability. Patients failing also 3rd line therapy entered the final absorbing health state (4th line). Data on tolerability, efficacy, and utilities for tapentadol and oxycodone were obtained from the three comparative phase III clinical trials. Costs of resource consumption associated with opioid treatment were derived from a retrospective database analysis of anonymized patient records.

Results: The model results predicted that initiating 2nd line therapy with tapentadol leads to higher effectiveness and lower costs vs oxycodone. For the overall population included in the clinical trials, mean annual costs per patient when treated with tapentadol and oxycodone were £3543 and £3656, respectively. Treatment with tapentadol, while cheaper than oxycodone, was more effective (0.6371 vs 0.6237 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) for tapentadol and oxycodone, respectively), meaning that tapentadol dominated oxycodone. For the sub-group of opioid-experienced patients with severe pain at baseline the ranking in terms of costs and QALYs remained unchanged. Extensive sensitivity analyses showed that conclusions about the cost-effectiveness are consistent.

Conclusions: The cost-effectiveness study suggested that initiating 2nd line treatment in patients with severe non-malignant chronic pain in the UK with tapentadol instead of oxycodone improves patients' quality-of-life and is less costly. Key limitations when interpreting the results are the use of different sources to populate the model and restricted generalizability due to data extrapolation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / economics*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / economics
  • Humans
  • Markov Chains
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Oxycodone / economics*
  • Oxycodone / therapeutic use
  • Phenols / economics*
  • Phenols / therapeutic use
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • State Medicine
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tapentadol
  • United Kingdom


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Phenols
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Tapentadol