Opioid Analgesic Use For Pain Relief in Chronic Noncancer Pain

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Dr Stephanie Mathieson
NHMRC Health Professional Research Early Career Fellow
The University of Sydney
Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney School of Public Health
Institute for Musculoskeletal Health
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Australia

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Chronic non-cancer pain, such as chronic non-specific low back pain has a substantial impact on society by costing billions of dollars each year in health care costs and lost productivity.

Current clinical practice guidelines for the management of chronic non-cancer pain, such as those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, now recommend avoiding the initial use of opioid analgesics, as the risk of harms, such as overdose and death.

We wanted to establish the extent to which opioid analgesics are used by people with chronic noncancer pain. This is important, as many studies report how many opioids are prescribed, but this may not represent the actual use of opioid analgesics.

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New Model Helps Clinicians Predict Which Patients Require Highest Doses of Opioids for Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
DrMieke Soens, MD
Anesthesiology Specialist 
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Opioid use worldwide has doubled in the last two decades and several countries, including the US, are struggling with a real opioid epidemic. Higher opioid doses after surgery are associated with prolonged opioid use and misuse. For example, in a study of more than 30,000 patients undergoing minor surgery such as appendectomy or gallbladder surgery, the risk to become a chronic opioid user was around 6% compared to 0.4% in the non-surgical population.

Many of our colleagues have previously identified predictors associated with more severe pain and opioid use after surgery, however, to assess those predictors, they had to use lengthy questionnaires. This approach is very time-consuming and impractical for use in daily clinical practice. The machine learning models that we have developed can work quickly and in real-time prior to surgery to mine data from patient’s electronic medical records and without the need for cumbersome questionnaires, in order to selectively identify those patients who will need high doses of opioids after surgery.

This can help reduce postoperative opioid use, by allowing the care team to maximize non-opioid analgesic strategies in these patients. Examples of non-opioid strategies include nerve blocks and epidurals and different types of non-opioid medications. We know that these alternatives can be very costly and sometimes risky. Therefore, being able to target the right treatment to the right patient is important to not only to reduce opioid use, but also to ensure that patients receive the treatment that is right for them.

Opioid Epidemic for Pain Relief Has Waned But is Not Over

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Mario Moric M.S.
Department of Anesthesiology
Rush University Medical
Center Department of Anesthesiology

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

  • Prescription Pain Medicine (PPM) abuse has become a national problem and is now consider an epidemic. In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication; enough for every American adult to have a bottle of opioids. 
  • With the recent public information campaign about the epidemic and the possible addictive nature of opioid prescription pain medications, the abuse rates have declined.  We examined data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) public data derived from a national survey. 
  • We have raw data (actual reported rates of PPM abuse, see attached image) and weighted data (corrected for the sampling design).  Looking at the raw data you can see that abuse rates for lifetime use (highest line), past year use (middle red line) and past month use (bottom green line) are all more or less stable until 1998 after which we saw huge increase. From 1998 to 2004 the lifetime use increased 186%, the past year use increased 193% and the past month use increased 183%.  Then the decrease, from 2009 to 2018 the lifetime use decreased 72%, the past year use decreased 90% and the past month use decreased 185%.
  • Using the weighted data, the past year use decreases 26% and was statistically significant, indicating a real world decrease in prescription pain medication abuse.
Prescription Pain Medicine

How Do Primary Care Physicians Handle Opioids For Patients Seeking Chronic Pain Relief?

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Laura Militello
Unveil, LLC
Applied Decision Science, LLC

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Little is known about how primary care clinicians’ (PCC) approach chronic pain management in the current climate of rapidly changing guidelines and the growing body of research about risks and benefits of opioid therapy. When it comes to pain management, primary care clinicians (PCCs) find themselves in a somewhat unexpected role. Few conditions intersect with a range of specialties (i.e. mental health, orthopedics, endocrinology, etc.), disability, and aberrant behavior in the way that chronic pain does. PCCs find themselves in a position where they are asked to assess and diagnose sometimes vague and diffuse pain, and determine appropriate treatment often before the underlying cause of the pain is well-understood.

A recent cultural shift in the U.S. has created a situation in which a formerly default treatment, prescription opioid therapy, is no longer considered safe or appropriate for many patients with chronic pain. The addictive qualities and overall safety profile of opioid medications have come into sharp focus in recent years, leading to a push to reduce opioid use while also trying to achieve pain relief with little guidance for PCCs about how to manage this change in treatment plans. Others have documented the uneasiness many experience in managing patients with chronic pain. One participant in our study described the sense that opioid prescribing sometimes extends into unexpected and disconcerting territory in this way: “I never signed up to be an enforcer.” The complexity and moral uncertainty (6) associated with managing patients with chronic pain is an important backdrop for the findings from this study.

Wide Variation in Opioid Prescribing for Pain Relief Following Knee Arthroscopy

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Benjamin Ukert PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Policy and Management
Texas A&M

Mucio Kit Delgado, MD, MS
Department of Emergency Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: The opioid epidemic has received a lot of attention and many state policies have been passed to address excessive opioid prescribing and highlight the dangers of opioid use initiation for those who have never been exposed to opioids. We also now know that most patients prescribed opioids for post-operative pain have significant quantities of pills leftover. One study showed that after knee arthroscopy, 50% of patients took no opioids, and 90% took less than 5 pills (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7190545/).

We thought to investigate whether overprescribing is still common, and asked the question whether we now observe low levels of prescribing following knee arthroscopy and whether there are differences in prescribing practices across states.

Study Finds Chronic Pain Patients Used More Opioids For Pain Relief When COVID-19 Cancelled Elective Procedures

PainRelief.com Interview with:

Dr. Shantha Ganesan MD
 Pain Medicine Specialist
Kings County Hospital Center

David Kim, MD, PGY-2
SUNY Downstate Department of Anesthesiology 

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: The opioid epidemic is a serious national crisis that has detrimental impacts on both public health, and social and economic welfare. Therefore, any efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, including minimizing or weaning opioid prescriptions, and using other modes of analgesia when possible are undeniably necessary in this day and age. With the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare providers abruptly changed their care delivery. In-person clinic visits were changed to telemedicine, and elective cases were cancelled.

Due to a growing concern that chronic pain patients may have limited resources from this unprecedented time of social and economic shutdown, organizations such as American Medical Association and Drug Enforcement Administration have supported implementing measures to ensure these patients achieve adequate pain control by increasing access to pain medications, but at the cost of reducing barriers and restrictions to controlled substances. Given the cancellation of elective interventional pain management procedures and relaxed regulations on controlled substances during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is reasonable to suspect a dramatic increase in opioid prescription during this time.

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Factors Affecting Adults’ Choice of Opioids for Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Didem Bernard, Ph.D.
Senior Economist
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: There had not been any studies on whether patient attitudes about health affect opioid use. A self-reliant health attitude is agreement with the following statements: “I do not need health insurance,” and “I can overcome illness without help from a medically trained person.”

We find that health-related attitudes affect both adults with and without chronic pain treatment similarly. Adults with self-reliant health attitudes are less likely to start and more likely to discontinue opioid use. Exercise is also associated with a higher probability of choosing no analgesic treatments over using opioids. Similarly, among adults who are using opioids for pain treatment, exercise is associated with a higher probability of discontinuing opioid use in the year following opioid initiation.

Cesarean Section: TAP Block with EXPAREL Provides Long-Acting Pain Relief and Reduces Opioid Use

PainRelief.com Interview with:

Dr. Ashraf Habib, MB BCh
Chief of the Division of Women’s Anesthesia
Professor of Anesthesiology
Duke University, Durham, NC

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response:  Cesarean sections (C-sections) occur every day in the United States, with more than 1.2 million procedures in the US each year according to the CDC. Since postsurgical pain after C-sections can range from moderate to severe discomfort, it is important that this pain is managed effectively and safely. The amount of pain experienced and the way pain is treated can have an impact on a new mother’s postsurgical recovery. While opioids were once considered the standard treatment to manage pain after surgery, postsurgical opioid consumption can have a negative impact on a new mother’s recovery experience, causing unwanted side effects such as drowsiness, itching, nausea, vomiting, constipation and the risk of persistent use or dependence. In fact, research shows nearly nine in 10 mothers and mothers-to-be have concerns about taking opioids during and after childbirth, yet 51% of all C-section patients are still prescribed an opioid to manage postsurgical pain.

We recently published results from a Phase 4 study in Anesthesia and Analgesia that revealed the long-acting local anesthetic EXPAREL (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension), when administered with bupivacaine as part of transversus abdominis plane (TAP) field block, provided a significant reduction in opioid consumption and a greater percentage of opioid-spared patients, with optimized pain control through 72 hours. This was a multicenter, randomized, double-blind study across 13 clinical sites in the United States, in patients undergoing elective C-section and receiving spinal anesthesia and a multimodal analgesic regimen. Patients were randomized to receive EXPAREL 266 mg plus bupivacaine HCl 50 mg or bupivacaine HCl 50 mg alone administered via TAP field block after delivery.

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Deprescribing Opioids Used For Chronic Non-Cancer Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Dr Stephanie Mathieson PhD
NHMRC Health Professional Research Early Career Fellow
The University of SydneyFaculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney School of Public Health
Australia

Dr Stephanie Mathieson is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, The University of Sydney. Her National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Health Professional Research Early Career Fellow is focused around reducing the opioid epidemic in Australia.

Dr. MATHIESON

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: This study aimed to review the current evidence of the efficacy of interventions designed to reduce/cease the prescription of, or the use of, opioid analgesics in patients with chronic non-cancer pain.

As clinical practice guidelines now discourage the initial prescription of opioid analgesics for chronic non-cancer pain, clinicians need to know which opioid dose reduction methods are most effective and safe for deprescribing opioid analgesics in their patients.

PainRelief.com:?  What are the main findings?

Response: Our systematic review extended the previous body of literature by incorporating five new randomised trials; however, clinical and statistical heterogeneity prevented meta-analysis. There were ten patient-focused interventions (i.e. aimed at reducing a patient’s opioid dose), and two clinician focused interventions (i.e. aimed at changing the clinician’s behaviour). Overall, our review was unable to recommend any one opioid analgesic deprescribing strategy in patients with chronic pain due to the small number of trials and heterogeneity.

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Joint Replacement: Have Opioid Prescription Patterns for Pain Relief Changed?

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Rahul Shah
Medical Student
The University of Texas Medical Branch

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: The United States has a unique overreliance on opioids for managing both acute and chronic pain, compared to many other developed nations. Opioid misuse and addiction frequently start with large doses of opioids prescribed after surgical interventions. This overprescribing contributes to the high rates of opioid use disorder and overdose deaths in the United States. There have been myriad interventions to curb opioid overprescribing, ranging from the DEA’s hydrocodone rescheduling law to opioid prescribing guidelines issued by the CDC, states and orthopedics specialty organizations. 

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