Tapentadol Abuse Low in First 18 Months Post Launch

PALM SPRINGS, CA — In a class of drugs often abused and misused for nonmedical purposes, tapentadol was found to have low rates of abuse over the first 18 months since its launch, according to a study presented at the 2012 American Academy of Pain Medicine Annual Meeting.

Opioid analgesics are key in the management of moderate to severe pain. But an unintended consequence is the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers. Epidemiologic studies have shown nonmedical use of pain relievers among persons ≥12 years or older was second only to marijuana use in the U.S.1 Gary M. Baker, PharmD, of Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC, Reading, MA, and colleagues from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, CO, studied the rates of abuse, misuse, and diversion of tapentadol immediate release (IR) for 18 months immediately following the product’s launch.

Researchers utilized the RADARS System to measure and compare the rates of abuse, misuse, and diversion for tapentadol IR with other opioids. The RADARS System programs collect data from all ages of the population and focuses on several unique populations, therefore covering the entire scope of drug abuse. Data from the Drug Diversion, Survey of Key Informants (SKIP), poison centers, and opioid treatment programs were analyzed to compare rates for tapentadol IR with other opioid analgesics from June 2009 through December 2010, utilizing both per 1,000 unique recipients of dispensed drug (URDD) and per 100,000 population (POP) as denominators.

Data from the SKIP program showed that nonmedical use rates for tapentadol fluctuated between 0 and 0.572 per 1,000 people who filled a prescription (URDD) and between 0 and 0.015 per 100,000 population (POP), reflecting nonsignificant changes over time (P=0.816 and P=0.867, respectively). Data from poison centers, outpatient treatment programs, and drug diversion programs also showed similar nonsignificant trends in population and exposure rates (all P-values >0.05) during the observation period.

Data obtained from the Opioid Treatment Program revealed that the rate for trapentadol IR was low relative to the rates for oxycodone and hydrocodone and comparable to the rate for tramadol.

Timely and sensitive data, such as those provided by the RADARS system, are essential for implementing a robust program that can monitor trends in tapentadol IR abuse and diversion over time, Dr. Baker concluded.

While the rates of abuse, misuse, and diversion of tapentadol IR have been low, Dr. Baker recommends continued monitoring.


1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2010). Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Volume I. Summary of National Findings. http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k9NSDUH/2k9ResultsP.pdf