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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Pain Relief from NSAIDS and COVID-19 Outcomes

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Anton Pottegård DMSc PhD

Professor (MScPharm, PhD, DMSc)
Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacy, Department of Public Health
University of Southern Denmark
Head of Research, Hospital Pharmacy Funen
Odense University Hospital

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

Response: Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns were raised that use of the common painkiller ibuprofen – a so-called NSAID – to treat symptoms of COVID-19 might lead to more severe disease. This started with tweets from the French health minister and culminated with a warning issued by the WHO. This warning was later retracted, but naturally patients and physicians were concerned regarding the safety of ibuprofen. We therefore established a nationwide Danish collaboration between researchers and regulators and established a prospective cohort of all Danish patients that contracted COVID-19, including data on what prescription medicines they used. We used these data to evaluate whether users of ibuprofen or other NSAIDs on average had a more severe course of COVID-19 than those not using these drugs.

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