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Opioid Prescriptions Common With Fibromyalgia

Patients taking opioids are less likely to subsequently receive guideline-recommended therapy

woman in pain

TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Opioid use is widespread among patients with newly diagnosed fibromyalgia, and patients taking opioids have a decreased likelihood of receiving guideline-recommended medications, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in Pain Practice.

Rachel Halpern, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Optum in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and colleagues conducted a retrospective claims data analysis of adult commercial health plan members newly diagnosed with fibromyalgia (initial diagnosis = index date) from January 2008 to February 2012. Patients received pain medication within six months post-index.

The researchers found that the 96,175 patients (mean age, 47.3 years; 72.5 percent female) were prescribed medications in the following proportions: short-acting opioid (SAO), 57 percent; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 22 percent; anti-epileptic drug (AED), 10 percent ; serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), 6 percent; tricyclic antidepressant (TCA), 3 percent; and long-acting opioid (LAO), 2 percent. The most discontinuation and the least augmentation were seen in the SAO cohort. Patients with pre-index guideline-recommended medications were two to four times more likely to receive them post-index compared with those without pre-index recommended medications. Patients in the opioid cohorts were approximately half as likely to then receive guideline-recommended medications.

"These real-world results indicate an opportunity may exist for improved FM management using recommended therapies in clinical practice," conclude the authors.

The study was supported by Pfizer; several authors disclosed financial ties to the company.

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