Article Abstract

Pregabalin as an analgesic option for patients undergoing thoracotomy: cost analysis of pregabalin versus epidural analgesia for post-thoracotomy pain relief

Authors: Noriyuki Matsutani, Hitomi Yamane, Toshiaki Suzuki, Aya Murakami, Yuri Haga, Masafumi Kawamura

Abstract

Background: Our previous randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effects of pregabalin on acute post-thoracotomy pain compared with epidural analgesia showed that pregabalin is a safe and effective treatment and that it may be an alternative to epidural analgesia for acute post-thoracotomy pain. In this analysis, to additionally analyze the economic aspects of pregabalin in patients undergoing thoracotomy, we compared the medical costs between pregabalin and epidural analgesia as an analgesic technique for post-thoracotomy pain.
Methods: Costs for patients undergoing thoracotomy and receiving either pregabalin or epidural analgesia for post-thoracotomy pain relief in the previous RCT were retrospectively collected from health insurance claims data. The following five cost categories were compared between the groups: (I) surgery costs; (II) costs for surgical materials and medications; (III) costs for anesthetic management; (IV) total hospitalization costs; and (V) costs for outpatient pain-relief medications (from hospital discharge to 6 months after thoracotomy).
Results: We analyzed data from 90 patients (45 patients for each group). Median costs for surgical materials and medications and those for anesthetic management were significantly lower in the pregabalin group than in the epidural analgesia group [(Japanese yen) ¥69,720 vs. ¥77,180, P=0.017; ¥161,000 vs. ¥195,500, P<0.001, respectively]. However, total hospitalization costs and costs for outpatient pain-relief medications were similar between the groups. Pregabalin was prescribed to more patients in the pregabalin group than those in the epidural analgesia group as outpatient treatment (75.0% vs. 37.5%), but median prescribed doses were much smaller in the pregabalin group.
Conclusions: Although the use of pregabalin did not result in lower total hospitalization costs, it may reduce fee-for-service surgery- and anesthesia-related costs. The economic benefits of pregabalin may reinforce its usefulness as an alternative to epidural analgesia, especially for patients who are unsuitable for epidural analgesia.