With all the stories of addiction and overdose deaths, it sometimes seems crazy that powerful prescription painkillers like OxyContin are still considered to be viable options for the treatment of people who aren’t, say, dying of cancer. Now, a new study appears to back that up that thinking. The risks of prescribing painkillers like OxyContin for long-term use in patients with chronic, non-cancer pain could outweigh the benefits of such treatment, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found. The increase in prescribing opioids to manage this type of pain “has been accompanied by alarming increases in diversion of prescription opioids, opioid misuse and abuse, and fatal overdoses involving prescription opioids,” leading the study’s authors to conclude that clinicians should err on the side of caution when considering this treatment.
It will be interesting to see how the pain management community responds to this new information.