Bedson, J, Chen, Y, Ashworth, J, Hayward, RA, Dunn, KM and Jordan, KP (2019) Risk of adverse events in patients prescribed long‐term opioids: a cohort study in the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink. European Journal of Pain, 23 (5). pp. 908-922. ISSN 1090-3801

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Long‐term opioid prescribing for musculoskeletal pain is controversial due to uncertainty regarding effectiveness and safety. This study examined the risks of a range of adverse events in a large cohort of patients prescribed long‐term opioids using the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

Patients with musculoskeletal conditions starting a new long‐term opioid episode (defined as ≥3 opioid prescriptions within 90 days) between 2002 and 2012 were included. Primary outcomes: major trauma and intentional overdose (any). Secondary outcomes: addiction (any), falls, accidental poisoning, attempted suicide/self‐harm, gastrointestinal pathology and bleeding, and iron deficiency anaemia. “Control” outcomes (unrelated to opioid use): incident eczema and psoriasis.

A total of 98,140 new long‐term opioids users (median age 61, 41% male) were followed for (median) 3.4 years. Major trauma risk increased from 285 per 10,000 person‐years without long‐term opioids to 369/10,000 for a long‐term opioid episode (<20 mg MED), 382/10,000 (20–50 mg MED), and 424/10,000 (≥50 mg MED). Adjusted hazard ratios were 1.09 (95% CI; 1.04, 1.14 for <20 mg MED vs. not being in an episode of long‐term prescribing), 1.24 (95% CI; 1.16, 1.32: 20–50 mg MED) and 1.34 (95% CI; 1.20, 1.50: ≥50 mg MED). Significant dose‐dependent increases in the risk of overdose (any type), addiction, falls, accidental poisoning, gastrointestinal pathology, and iron deficiency anaemia were also found.

Patients prescribed long‐term opioids are vulnerable to dose‐dependent serious adverse events. Opioid prescribing should be reviewed before long‐term use becomes established, and periodically thereafter to ensure that patients are not being exposed to increased risk of harm, which is not balanced by therapeutic benefit.

Long‐term opioid use is associated with serious adverse events such as major trauma, addiction and overdose. The risk increases with higher opioid doses. Opioid prescribing should be reviewed before long‐term use becomes established, and periodically thereafter to assess ongoing effectiveness.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Wiley at - Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: opoid; risk
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Primary Care Health Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2019 10:26
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2020 01:30

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