Background: Identifying the optimal treatment in an acute postoperative setting remains a challenge. Multiple analgesic options are available, but comparing outcomes is limited by a lack of head-to-head trials. In addition, decisions based on efficacy only do not take drug safety into account. In such cases, multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) can be utilized to quantify and compare the efficacy and safety data of various drugs.
Methodology: The efficacy-safety profiles of eight parenteral, postoperative analgesics (acetaminophen, diclofenac, ketorolac, metamizole, morphine, nefopam, parecoxib, tramadol) widely used in Europe were evaluated using an MCDA model that included 17 criteria: three for efficacy and 14 for safety. Each drug was scored on each criterion on a scale from 0 (worst) to 100 (best), according to published data and the judgment of an expert panel. A weighting process was then applied to standardize the impact of each criterion and adjust drugs' preference scores accordingly, normalizing them on the 0-100 scale. Sensitivity analyses were also performed, including a model in which analgesic profiles were compared when opioid sparing effect was set at a zero value for all drugs.
Results: In the primary model, efficacy and safety had relative weightings of 64% and 36%, respectively. Efficacy and safety criteria with the highest values were pain relief (relative weight, 29%) and gastrointestinal effects (12%). Parecoxib received the highest overall score (93), followed by diclofenac (80), and ketorolac (75). Morphine scored the lowest (57), due to the lack of an opioid sparing effect. When opioid sparing was given a zero rating, parecoxib remained the highest scoring analgesic (93), followed by diclofenac (80), metamizole (76), and morphine (76). Parecoxib remained the most preferred analgesic in several other sensitivity analyses.
Conclusion: This MCDA-based assessment suggests that parecoxib has the most favorable efficacy-safety profile among the assessed postoperative analgesics.