- Patients using an implanted targeted drug therapy in conjunction with traditional medical management had fewer inpatient and emergency department visits than those with only medical management, a new JAMA Network Open study funded by Medtronic found.
- The study, which examined claims data from 536 cancer patients from a payer database, found associated cost savings of $63,498 on average after 12 months for the implant therapy compared to only medical management. The range of statistical estimates for cost savings was wide in the study, but the results were statistically significant at one year.
- Medtronic argues the study indicates its pain pump, which allows for direct opioid dosing to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord, can lower healthcare costs and reduce use of oral opioids for certain patients. Still, the study notes TDD "is not a first-line treatment option," and was used for those "considered to have severe uncontrolled pain."
Medtronic’s pain therapies business unit accounted for $314 million in its third quarter, coming off a second quarter where its SynchroMed II pain pump contributed low double-digit growth to the unit, according to CEO Omar Ishrak.
The medtech giant is likely to tout its pain pump as an alternative to oral opioids at a time policymakers are keen on reducing opioid prescriptions. In 2017, 17,029 individuals in the United States died of a prescription opioid overdose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 70,237 died in 2017 from all drug overdoses including fentanyl, heroin and benzodiazepines.
"Despite evidence that TDD provides better pain relief with fewer side effects than CMM, and has the potential to reduce oral opioid use, it is underutilized with appropriate patients," Charlie Covert, VP of Medtronic’s targeted drug delivery business, said in a statement.
The study notes the National Comprehensive Cancer Network only recommends TDD for patients "who experience intolerable adverse effects or in whom systemic opioids are not effective."
In recent years, TDD administration has increasingly been given in an outpatient rather than an inpatient setting, according to study researchers. Medtronic argues more research is warranted to examine if the shift may "result in a lower initial cost to implant a TDD system, which has the potential to increase long-term cost savings."
Last October, Medtronic received FDA approval for a device that works in tandem with its pain pump to allow patients to deliver opioid doses on demand.