Prescription Opioids Dispensed to Patients with Cancer with Bone Metastasis: 2011–2017

Hao Zhang*, Judith Paice, Russell Portenoy, Eduardo Bruera, M. Carrington Reid, Yuhua Bao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Opioid therapy is a first-line approach for moderate-to-severe pain associated with cancer with bone metastasis (CBM). The decade-long decline in opioid prescribing in the U.S. would not be expected to affect patients with CBM. We investigated trends in opioids dispensed to patients with CBM using data from a large commercial claims database. From 2011 quarter 2 to 2017 quarter 4, the percentage of patients with CBM prescribed at least 1 day of opioids in a quarter declined from 28.1% to 24.5% (p <.001) for privately insured patients aged 18–64 years and from 39.1% to 30.5% (p <.001) for Medicare Advantage (MA) patients aged 65 years or older. Among patients with at least 1 day of opioids in a quarter, the average morphine milligram equivalents dispensed declined by 37% and 11% (p <.001 for both) for privately insured and MA patients, respectively. Our findings raise concerns about potential unintended consequences related to population-level reduction in opioid prescribing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1890-e1892
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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