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Long-acting opioid tied to increased risk of serious infections

07 Oct 2018

Patients using long-acting opioids with immunosuppressive properties are at greater risk of developing serious infections compared with those using the nonimmunosuppressive opioid counterpart, according to a study.

The study involved Tennessee Medicaid adult enrolees initiating long-acting opioids for pain. Infection risk was compared between individuals using long-acting opioids with known immunosuppressive properties (eg, morphine, fentanyl and methadone; n=61,240) and those using long-acting opioids without immunosuppressive properties (eg, oxycodone, oxymorphone and tramadol; n=22,811).

A total of 1,906 serious infections were identified during 55,663 person-years of follow-up (3.42 hospitalizations for serious infections per 100 person-years). The most common infection was pneumonia (56.1 percent), followed by cellulitis (17.9 percent), bacteraemia without pneumonia (15.3 percent), pyelonephritis (6.1 percent) and septic arthritis/osteomyelitis (3.8 percent).

Multivariate Poisson regression models showed that compared with nonimmunosuppressive opioid users, individuals using immunosuppressive opioids had a lower rate of serious infections (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR], 0.78; 95 percent CI, 0.66–0.91).

Among individual opioids, oxycodone yielded the lowest risk of infection (aIRR, 0.73; 0.61–0.89). No significant differences in the infection risk were observed among other opioids and morphine.

The present data are consistent with results from animal and in-vitro experimental studies showing immunosuppressive properties only in certain opioids, researchers said. It is therefore important to carefully consider the risk of serious infections when making pain management decisions.

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Most Read Articles
3 days ago
The types of bariatric surgery differentially affect the risk of developing acute pancreatitis postoperatively, such that the risk is greater in patients who undergo vertical sleeve gastrectomy vs Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, according to a study. Risk factors include younger age and presence of gallstones.
14 Oct 2018
Elderly adults using hypoglycaemic glucose-lowering drugs, such as insulin and glinides, have an excess risk of hospitalization for serious trauma, a recent study has found.
Yesterday
Concomitant use of psyllium fibres, taken before meals, appears to enhance the cholesterol-lowering effects of statins, according to a recent meta-analysis.
4 days ago
Smoking appears to increase the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm, particularly among current smokers, reports a recent meta-analysis. The risk appears to taper with a lower number of cigarette sticks smoked per day.