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      The prescription opioid epidemic: an overview for anesthesiologists

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      Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d'anesthésie
      Springer Nature

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          Abstract

          The objectives for preparing this article were to review the historical context and epidemiology surrounding the North American prescription opioid crisis, to summarize the evidence regarding the benefits and harms of long-term opioid therapy for non-cancer pain, and to outline ways in which anesthesiologists may help ameliorate the problem.

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          Most cited references34

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          Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain: a systematic review and data synthesis.

          Opioid use in chronic pain treatment is complex, as patients may derive both benefit and harm. Identification of individuals currently using opioids in a problematic way is important given the substantial recent increases in prescription rates and consequent increases in morbidity and mortality. The present review provides updated and expanded information regarding rates of problematic opioid use in chronic pain. Because previous reviews have indicated substantial variability in this literature, several steps were taken to enhance precision and utility. First, problematic use was coded using explicitly defined terms, referring to different patterns of use (ie, misuse, abuse, and addiction). Second, average prevalence rates were calculated and weighted by sample size and study quality. Third, the influence of differences in study methodology was examined. In total, data from 38 studies were included. Rates of problematic use were quite broad, ranging from <1% to 81% across studies. Across most calculations, rates of misuse averaged between 21% and 29% (range, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 13%-38%). Rates of addiction averaged between 8% and 12% (range, 95% CI: 3%-17%). Abuse was reported in only a single study. Only 1 difference emerged when study methods were examined, where rates of addiction were lower in studies that identified prevalence assessment as a primary, rather than secondary, objective. Although significant variability remains in this literature, this review provides guidance regarding possible average rates of opioid misuse and addiction and also highlights areas in need of further clarification.
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            Opioids in chronic non-cancer pain: systematic review of efficacy and safety.

            Opioids are used increasingly for chronic non-cancer pain. Controversy exists about their effectiveness and safety with long-term use. We analysed available randomised, placebo-controlled trials of WHO step 3 opioids for efficacy and safety in chronic non-cancer pain. The Oxford Pain Relief Database (1950-1994) and Medline, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library were searched until September 2003. Inclusion criteria were randomised comparisons of WHO step 3 opioids with placebo in chronic non-cancer pain. Double-blind studies reporting on pain intensity outcomes using validated pain scales were included. Fifteen randomised placebo-controlled trials were included. Four investigations with 120 patients studied intravenous opioid testing. Eleven studies (1025 patients) compared oral opioids with placebo for four days to eight weeks. Six of the 15 included trials had an open label follow-up of 6-24 months. The mean decrease in pain intensity in most studies was at least 30% with opioids and was comparable in neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain. About 80% of patients experienced at least one adverse event, with constipation (41%), nausea (32%) and somnolence (29%) being most common. Only 44% of 388 patients on open label treatments were still on opioids after therapy for between 7 and 24 months. The short-term efficacy of opioids was good in both neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain conditions. However, only a minority of patients in these studies went on to long-term management with opioids. The small number of selected patients and the short follow-ups do not allow conclusions concerning problems such as tolerance and addiction.
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              The promotion and marketing of oxycontin: commercial triumph, public health tragedy.

              I focus on issues surrounding the promotion and marketing of controlled drugs and their regulatory oversight. Compared with noncontrolled drugs, controlled drugs, with their potential for abuse and diversion, pose different public health risks when they are overpromoted and highly prescribed. An in-depth analysis of the promotion and marketing of OxyContin illustrates some of the associated issues. Modifications of the promotion and marketing of controlled drugs by the pharmaceutical industry and an enhanced capacity of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate and monitor such promotion can have a positive impact on the public health.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Canadian Journal of Anesthesia/Journal canadien d'anesthésie
                Can J Anesth/J Can Anesth
                Springer Nature
                0832-610X
                1496-8975
                January 2016
                October 27 2015
                : 63
                : 1
                : 61-68
                Article
                10.1007/s12630-015-0520-y
                26507535
                8d203fa3-7369-4c76-ac28-842a035618b6
                © 2015

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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