Opiate Pain Relievers Carry Significant Risk for Adverse Outcomes

By Staff Writer

Increasingly, powerful drugs are being prescribed to treat pain. However, this could be causing an uptick in opiate addiction, as well as other harmful outcomes, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

A team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston analyzed the medical records of nearly 13,000 patients who had been prescribed various classes of pain relievers, including nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors and opiates.

They found that patients prescribed opiates had a greater risk of a range of health complications. They were more likely to experience a bone fracture, develop cardiovascular problems, be hospitalized or die during the course of their treatment.

The researchers said that, despite the fact that millions of patients receive prescriptions for opiates every year, few studies have looked into the potential health consequences of these drugs. Given the fact that they are known to carry a significant risk for abuse and addiction, researchers said that these medications should only be prescribed under certain circumstances.