NASHVILLE, TENN. – Women with endometriosis are at increased risk of chronic opioid use, compared with those without endometriosis, based on an analysis of claims data.
The 2-year rate of chronic opioid use was 4.4% among 36,373 women with endometriosis, compared with 1.1% among 2,172,936 women without endometriosis (odds ratio, 3.94) – a finding with important implications for physician prescribing considerations, Stephanie E. Chiuve, ScD, reported at the annual clinical and scientific meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The OR was 3.76 after adjusting for age, race, and geographic region, said Dr. Chiuve of AbbVie, North Chicago.
Notably, the prevalence of other pain conditions, depression, anxiety, abuse of substances other than opioids, immunologic disorders, and use of opioids and other medications at baseline was higher in women with endometriosis versus those without. In any year, women with endometriosis were twice as likely to fill at least one opioid prescription, and were 3.5-4 times more likely to be a chronic opioid user than were women without endometriosis, she and her colleagues wrote in a poster presented at the meeting.
“Up to 60% of women with endometriosis experience significant chronic pain, including dysmenorrhea, nonmenstrual pelvic pain, and dyspareunia,” they explained, adding that opioids may be prescribed for chronic pain management or for acute pain in the context of surgical procedures for endometriosis.
“This was due in part to various comorbidities that are also risk factors for chronic opioid use,” Dr. Chiuve said.
Women included in the study were aged 18-50 years (mean, 35 years), and were identified from a U.S. commercial insurance claims database and followed for 2 years after enrolling between January 2006 and December 2017. Chronic opioid use was defined as at least 120 days covered by an opioid dispensing or at least 10 fills of an opioid over a 1-year period during the 2-year follow-up study.
“With a less restrictive definition of chronic opioid use [of at least 6 fills] in any given year, the OR for chronic use comparing women with endometriosis to [the referent group] was similar [OR, 3.77],” the investigators wrote. “The OR for chronic use was attenuated to 2.88 after further adjustment for comorbidities and other medication use.”
Women with endometriosis in this study also experienced higher rates of opioid-associated clinical sequelae, they noted. For example, the adjusted ORs were 17.71 for an opioid dependence diagnosis, 12.52 for opioid overdose, and 10.39 for opioid use disorder treatment in chronic versus nonchronic users of opioids.
Additionally, chronic users were more likely to be prescribed high dose opioids (aOR, 6.45) and to be coprescribed benzodiazepines and sedatives (aORs, 5.87 and 3.78, respectively).
In fact, the findings of this study – though limited by factors such as the use of prescription fills rather than intake to measure exposure, and possible misclassification of endometriosis because of a lack of billing claims or undiagnosed disease – raise concerns about harmful opioid-related outcomes and dangerous prescribing patterns, they said.
In a separate poster presentation at the meeting, the researchers reported that independent risk factors for chronic opioid use in this study population were younger age (ORs, 0.90 and 0.72 for those aged 25-35 and 35-40 years, respectively, vs. those under age 25 years); concomitant chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia (OR, 1.49), chronic back pain (OR, 1.55), headaches/migraines (OR, 1.49), irritable bowel syndrome (OR, 1.61), and rheumatoid arthritis (OR, 2.52); the use of antipsychiatric drugs, including antidepressants (OR, 2.0), antipsychotics (OR, 1.66), and benzodiazepines (OR, 1.87); and baseline opioid use (OR, 3.95).
Hispanic ethnicity and Asian race predicted lower risk of chronic opioid use (ORs, 0.56 and 0.39, respectively), they found.
“These data contribute to the knowledge of potential risks of opioid use and may inform benefit-risk decision making of opioid use among women with endometriosis for management of endometriosis and its associated pain,” they concluded.
This study was funded by AbbVie. Dr. Chiuve is an employee of AbbVie, and she reported receiving stock/stock options.