Pacira Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PCRX) reported on Tuesday morning that, based on the results of a regional health system analysis conducted by Barnabas Health, opioid use in the post-surgical setting may be linked to extended hospital stay and increased cost of care. Pacira develops non-opioid analgesics, and the study results, published in Hospital Pharmacy, support use of the company’s products. Additionally, these results validate the use of Cadence Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:CADX), non-opioid analgesic Ofirmev, an IV formulation of acetaminophen for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. PropThink noted Ofirmev’s growth trend two weeks ago (see prior article) following the company’s analyst day. Opioids have been linked to nausea, constipation, and respiratory issues, and physicians have expressed a need to move towards alternative analgesic options. Ofirmev offers a compelling alternative, and since launch in 2011has already demonstrated exceptional formulary adoption in hospitals, consistent sales growth, and climbing reorder rates. Physicians who presented at the company’s analyst day also discussed expectations for increased vial use per patient, and improved market penetration with an uptick in provider usage. In 2013, analysts expect Ofirmev sales to grow 91% over 2012.
In the published study, medical records of patients were reviewed to identify length of stay (LOS) outliers, or patients who remained in the hospital for five days or more. Researchers matched 97 LOS outliers with an equal number of control patients with similar baseline characteristics who had an LOS that was less than five days. LOS outliers, it turned out, received more than two times the total opioid dose compared to controls by the time of discharge; reported a markedly higher incidence of Opioid Related Adverse Events compared to controls; remained hospitalized 5.5 days longer than controls; and had $8,544 more in total hospital charges than control patients, more than double the expenses. The results add to the growing body of research that suggests opioid analgesic use should be mitigated when possible, not only because of related health detriments but also because of associated expenses: time, system burden, and money. Many physicians now recommend a combination of narcotics and non-opioids depending on pain severity, and Cadence, with lead product Ofirmev, is well-positioned to take advantage of this shift in health care methodology. You can read more about Ofirmev’s market penetration in PropThink’s prior coverage of Cadence here and here.