BACKGROUND: The morbidity and mortality associated with opioid and benzodiazepine co-prescription is a pressing national concern. Little is known about patterns of opioid and benzodiazepine use in patients with acute low back pain or lower extremity pain.OBJECTIVE: To characterize patterns of opioid and benzodiazepine prescribing among opioid-naive, newly diagnosed low back pain (LBP) or lower extremity pain (LEP) patients and to investigate the relationship between benzodiazepine prescribing and long-term opioid use.DESIGN/SETTING: We performed a retrospective analysis of a commercial database containing claims for more than 75 million enrollees in the USA.PARTICIPANTS: Participants were adult patients newly diagnosed with LBP or LEP between 2008 and 2015 who did not have a red flag diagnosis, had not received an opioid prescription in the 6months prior to diagnosis, and had 12months of continuous enrollment after diagnosis.MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Among patients receiving at least one opioid prescription within 12months of diagnosis, we defined discrete patterns of benzodiazepine prescribing-continued use, new use, stopped use, and never use. We tested the association of these prescription patterns with long-term opioid use, defined as six or more fills within 12months.RESULTS: We identified 2,497,653 opioid-naive patients with newly diagnosed LBP or LEP. Between 2008 and 2015, 31.9% and 11.5% of these patients received opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions, respectively, within 12months of diagnosis. Rates of opioid prescription decreased from 34.8% in 2008 to 27.0% in 2015 (P<0.001); however, prescribing of benzodiazepines only decreased from 11.6% in 2008 to 10.8% in 2015. Patients with continued or new benzodiazepine use consistently used more opioids than patients who never used or stopped using benzodiazepines during the study period (one-way ANOVA, P<0.001). For patients with continued and new benzodiazepine use, the odds ratio of long-term opioid use compared with those never prescribed a benzodiazepine was 2.99 (95% CI, 2.89-3.08) and 2.68 (95% CI, 2.62-2.75), respectively.LIMITATIONS: This study used administrative claims analyses, which rely on accuracy and completeness of diagnostic, procedural, and prescription codes.CONCLUSION: Overall opioid prescribing for low back pain or lower extremity pain decreased substantially during the study period, indicating a shift in management within the medical community. Rates of benzodiazepine prescribing, however, remained at approximately 11%. Concurrent prescriptions of benzodiazepines and opioids after LBP or LEP diagnosis were associated with increased risk of long-term opioid use.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s11606-019-05549-8
View details for PubMedID 31720966