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OPIOID DANGERS

A VERY EFFECTIVE CLASS OF PAIN RELIEVERS ALSO HAVE A SIGNIFICANT DOWNSIDE, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Older people who take very effective pain relieving medications known as opioids also increase their risk of death, two very large studies reported recently. Michelle Bellantoni, a geriatrics expert at Johns Hopkins, says use of these medications has increased with physicians increasingly focused on pain as a vital sign.

BELLANTONI: Everybodyís doing pain scales. You canít treat anybody anywhere without having to look at the smiley faces and the zero to ten, and somebody needs to say well, but thereís also a down side. And the down side with these type of data, very large numbers, is that thereís an increased risk of death with that narcotic prescription, and one needs to balance that. Iím not saying we should keep everybody in pain, but now weíve got to start telling people whatís the risk of treating with this particular medicine. :27

Pain management strategies other than medications also need to be considered, Bellantoni says. At Johns Hopkins, Iím Elizabeth Tracey.


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