Saturday, 18 June 2016

Are Opiods Going To Kill Neuropathy Patients?

Today's short post from (see link below) raises more questions than answers as far as this blog's concerned and doesn't necessarily appreciate the nature of chronic nerve pain. Any article that suggests: "For less severe (nerve) pain, many over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may be as effective as an opioid" has to be suspect because it just can't be true. Neuropathy patients are prescribed opioid drugs for their pain when all else has failed and to suggest that over-the-counter analgesics may be just as effective, shows lack of understanding of how nerve pain works on the brain and nervous system. That said, any article that threatens opioid users with a much increased risk of death has to be taken seriously,  read and examined. It feels like an article that is written in response to the current 'crisis' with medication overdose problems and Professor Ray doesn't leave any doubt as to which side of the fence he sits on. He states: "We found that the opioid patients had a 64 percent increased risk of death for any reason and a 65 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death," but doesn't deliver the scientific evidence or context behind their findings. Should we be worried about this sort of headline? Of course we should but then we need to know how the conclusions have been reached. If you are a neuropathy patient in severe pain and having to rely on opioids to dampen that pain, then I suggest you have another talk with your prescribing doctor or specialist if you're worried. 99% of opioid users don't want to be taking opioids but have no choice and they take their medication with the greatest care and will do anything to avoid becoming addicted or harming themselves. They form a partnership with their doctors and their medication use is controlled and checked regularly to avoid any problems. The 1% who don't are the ones behind the current prescription drug hysteria...sledgehammer to crack a nut much!!!

Opioids increase risk of death when compared to other pain treatments 
Date:June 14, 2016 Source:Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Long-acting opioids are associated with a significantly increased risk of death when compared with alternative medications for moderate-to-severe chronic pain, according to a Vanderbilt study released today in JAMA.

Not only did long-acting opioids increase the risk of unintentional overdose deaths, but they were also shown to increase mortality from cardiorespiratory events and other causes.

Lead author Wayne Ray, Ph.D., and colleagues with the Vanderbilt Department of Health Policy studied Tennessee Medicaid patients between 1999-2012 with chronic pain, primarily back and other musculoskeletal pain, who did not have cancer or other serious illnesses.

Researchers compared those starting a long-acting opioid to those taking an alternative medication for moderate-to-severe pain.

Alternative medications included both anticonvulsants -- typically prescribed to prevent seizure activity in the brain, treat bipolar disorder or neuropathic pain -- and low doses of cyclic antidepressants, which are taken for depression, some pain and migraines.

"We found that the opioid patients had a 64 percent increased risk of death for any reason and a 65 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death," said Ray, professor of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

"The take-home message for patients with the kinds of pain we studied is to avoid long-acting opioids whenever possible. This is consistent with recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. This advice is particularly important for patients with high risk for cardiovascular disease, such as those with diabetes or a prior heart attack."

If a long-acting opioid is the only option for effective pain relief, patients should start with the lowest possible dose and only gradually increase it, he said.

The study group had a collective 22,912 new episodes of prescribed therapy for the medications, with 185 deaths in the long-acting opioid group and 87 deaths in the control group.

Long-acting opioid users had 69 excess deaths per 10,000 users. In other words, for every 145 patients who started a long-acting opioid, there was one excess death.

"We knew opioids increase the risk of overdose. However, opioids can interfere with breathing during the night, which can cause heart arrhythmias," Ray said.

"We were concerned that long-acting opioids might increase cardiovascular death risk, which is what we found. Because most patient populations have more cardiovascular deaths than overdose deaths, our finding means that prior studies may have underestimated the harms of long-acting opioids."

Ray said the findings add urgency to measures to restrict long-acting opioid use to those for whom benefits outweigh harms.

"Data are limited as to the best medicine for the kinds of pain we studied, such as back pain, although for pain involving the nerves, the non-opioids may be better," Ray said. "For less severe pain, many over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may be as effective as an opioid."

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
Wayne A. Ray, Cecilia P. Chung, Katherine T. Murray, Kathi Hall, C. Michael Stein. Prescription of Long-Acting Opioids and Mortality in Patients With Chronic Noncancer Pain. JAMA, 2016; 315 (22): 2415 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.7789

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments welcome but advertising your own service or product will unfortunately result in your comment not being published.