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Am J Manag Care. 2009 Oct 1;15(10):e95-102.

Effects of a Medicaid prior authorization policy for pregabalin.

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  • 1Thomson Reuters Healthcare, Washington, DC, USA.



To explore the effect of a prior authorization (PA) policy restricting access to pregabalin for the management of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) or postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) on the overall utilization of pharmacologic therapy and healthcare services among fee-for-service Medicaid plan beneficiaries.


Retrospective claims data were obtained for 2005 and 2006 from 6 state Medicaid programs. Two states that had implemented pregabalin PAs beginning in 2006 were compared in terms of drug utilization and costs with 4 states having no such restrictions.


Patients at least 18 years old in a Medicaid fee-for-service program having a diagnosis of DPN or PHN and at least 1 claim for DPN- or PHN-specific pain medication were selected. Pharmacologic therapy, healthcare utilization, and expenditures were analyzed using bivariate statistics and generalized linear models in a difference-in-difference approach for comparing outcomes between cohorts year over year.


The 2 cohorts included 424 patients in the restricted states and 5153 patients in the unrestricted states. Compared with the use in the unrestricted states, the probability of pregabalin use in the restricted states decreased by 4.0 percentage points (P = .02) from 2005 to 2006, while the probability of opioid use increased by 6.5 percentage points (P <.01).The DPN- or PHN-related total healthcare costs were $418 higher for the restricted states versus the unrestricted states (P <.001).


Although the PA was shown to effectively control access to pregabalin, the overall effect was an increase in the use of opioids and alternative pain management therapies associated with increased disease-related healthcare costs.

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