Opioid overdose linked to varying dosage, claims study

Washington: A study has claimed that patients who were prescribed opioid pain medications but kept changing the dosage over time were prone three times more to overdose than those taking a stable opioid medication.

“Our study suggests that safely managing long-term opioid therapy is complex,” said Ingrid Binswanger, co-author of the study which is published in the journal ‘JAMA Network Open’.

The study also found that the patients, who stopped their opioid medication for three months or more, were at half the risk of an overdose.

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“This study suggests going up and down on opioid doses — also called dose variability — could present an increased risk of overdose. Through this study, we also found eventually discontinuing opioid therapy may prevent overdoses,” said Ingrid.

She further said, “With continued studies, we hope to find out how care providers can help patients with their pain without putting them at unnecessary risk due to rapid changes in their dose.”

The study followed a period of 12 years and included 14,000 people who were prescribed with long-term opioid medication.

Researchers used electronic health records to track the history of patients to see if they had dose changes and overdoses from opioid pain medications and other opioid drugs.

“Our goal is to help identify the safest and effective approaches for managing long-term opioid therapy. We want to be able to minimize patients’ pain and reduce their risk for overdose,” explained Jason Glanz, who co-authored the study.


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