Dec 19, 2018

By Jane Brown

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It appears there is minimal benefit to taking opioids rather than over-the-counter pain medicines for chronic pain.

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is an analysis of nearly 100 studies on the effectiveness of opioids at treating chronic non-cancer pain, and raises questions about how often the drugs are prescribed, considering the addictive risks they pose.

The studies compared opioids with a placebo as well as other pain-relieving drugs.

Researchers found that opioids are slightly better than a placebo at treating pain and provide similar benefits as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

Toronto scientist, Dr. Nav Persaud, says “there was a dramatic increase in opioid prescribing in the 1990s and early 2000s and only now, 20 years later, is it being made clear that these medications may not work at all, or if they do have a benefit, it’s very small.”

Study lead author Dr. Jason Busse says “much of the focus of Canada’s opioid crisis is currently fixed on the rising number of deaths and hospitalizations caused by fentanyl overdoses. But prescriptions opioids are still an important part of the problem that should not be ignored.”

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