Long-term painkiller use on the rise, with more patients taking dangerous combos



Nearly half the people who took the painkillers for over 30 days in the study’s first year were still using them three years later, a sign of potential abuse.

When was it determined that more than three years of use is a sign of potential abuse?  And please keep in mind, “potential” abuse is not “actual” abuse.  But apparently, according to Express Scripts, these two words mean the same thing.

The report, released on Tuesday by the pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts, found that nearly 60 percent of patients taking the painkillers to treat long-term conditions were also being prescribed muscle relaxants or anti-anxiety drugs that could cause dangerous reactions.

“Not only are more people using these medications chronically, they are using them at higher doses than we would necessarily expect,” said Dr. Glen Stettin, a senior vice president at Express Scripts. “And they are using them in combinations for which there isn’t a lot of clinical justification.”

Dr. Stettin gets to determine what is considered a “higher” dose (compared to what?), and also gets to completely disregard the view of chronic pain patients.  Just because there hasn’t been enough research done on long-term opioid use, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a “clinical justification” for this treatment.

With few exceptions, patients who are taking an opioid painkiller should not be prescribed other drugs with a sedative effect, such as muscle relaxants or benzodiazepines, because of a risk that the combined drugs could slow down the respiratory system.

Pain patients take a combination of drugs for a lot of reasons, but it looks like muscle relaxers and benzodiazepines will no longer be available to treat chronic pain.  I guess pain patients are stuck with anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, anti-psychotics, and any other off-label drugs that Big Pharma creates.

And 27 percent were taking more than one opioid at a time, another hazardous combination… Dr. Stettin said patients with chronic pain should be receiving longer-acting drugs that work round the clock. But the study found that about half of those patients were taking short-acting opioids. 

So, no more short-acting meds for break-through pain, or in case a patient cannot tolerate the side effects of the long-acting drugs… just great…

“It begs for the use of active monitoring and also for better coordination of care,” he said.

Hey, doctor, are you an investor in a medical device company?

The rate of drug addiction in the medical and dental profession is higher than in the general population… And I think it’s time that doctors were also monitored, drug tested, and treated like criminals.

If you don't comment, I'll just assume you agree with me

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