Objective: Prescription opioid analgesics play an important role in the management of moderate to severe pain. An unintended consequence of prescribing opioid analgesics is the abuse and diversion of these medications. The authors estimated abuse and diversion rates for tapentadol immediate release (IR) compared with oxycodone, hydrocodone, and tramadol during the first 24 months of tapentadol IR availability.
Methods: The Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS®) System measures rates of prescription opioid abuse and diversion throughout the United States. Quarterly data from the Poison Center, Drug Diversion, Opioid Treatment, and Survey of Key Informants' Patients (SKIP) programs were plotted to visually compare the rates of tapentadol IR abuse and diversion with those of other opioid analgesics from July 2009 through June 2011 using both cases per 100,000 population and per 1,000 unique recipients of dispensed drug (URDD) as denominators. Trends in abuse and diversion rates over time were determined using a linear regression model of rate versus time.
Results: During the 24 months following its introduction, tapentadol IR had very low population-based rates of abuse and diversion that were similar to rates for tramadol and lower than rates for oxycodone and hydrocodone. Rates of tapentadol IR abuse and diversion based on URDD were variable by program due to changes in market share and had not stabilized as of June 2011.
Conclusions: Rates of tapentadol IR abuse and diversion have been low during the first 24 months after its launch. Continued monitoring of trends in these data is warranted.