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UC Davis physicians advise warning, collaboration with sufferers on tapering plans.

Stigma and security fears have made every day dose tapering of opioid prescriptions extra frequent. New analysis from UC Davis Well being physicians, nonetheless, reveals tapering can happen at charges as a lot as six instances greater than really helpful, placing sufferers susceptible to withdrawal, uncontrolled ache or psychological well being crises.

The research ― “Trends and Rapidity of Dose Tapering Among Patients Prescribed Long-term Opioid Therapy, 2008-2017” ― printed November 15, 2019, in JAMA Community Open. The outcomes additionally will likely be introduced on the November 16-19 North American Major Care Analysis Group assembly in Toronto.

“Tapering plans should be based on the needs and histories of each patient and adjusted as needed to avoid adverse outcomes,” mentioned research creator Alicia Agnoli, assistant professor of household and group drugs. “Unfortunately, a lot of tapering occurs due to policy pressures and a rush to get doses below a specific and sometimes arbitrary threshold. That approach can be detrimental in the long run.”

In 2016, the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) really helpful dose tapering, or a sluggish discount in prescription opioid doses, if the dangers of constant opioids outweigh the advantages. That time limit is normally when a affected person is taking 90 morphine milligram equivalents ― or MMEs ― every day, and that dose is now not lowering ache or bettering every day features. The CDC advises a sluggish lower of 10% MMEs monthly.

The research crew got down to study developments in opioid dose tapering and if tapering charges had been per CDC suggestions.

“We wanted to understand how often opioid dose tapering happens, how rapidly patients’ doses were being reduced when tapering, and which patients were more likely to have doses tapered,” mentioned lead creator Joshua Fenton, professor of household and group drugs.

Tapering sooner than really helpful

Fenton and Agnoli evaluated medical and pharmacy claims and enrollment data for greater than 100,000 business insurance coverage and Medicare Benefit enrollees, representing a various combination of ages, races, ethnicities and places throughout the U.S. They centered on people whose opioid doses had been steady for no less than a yr and recognized tapering sufferers as these with a 15% or extra discount in every day MMEs throughout a seven-month follow-up interval.

They discovered that dose tapering turned extra frequent all through the research interval of 2008-2017, with the most important bounce following the CDC’s 2016 prescribing pointers. Tapering elevated from 10.5% to 13.7% from 2008 to 2015, and from 16.2% to 22.4% from 2016 to 2017. Tapering was rather more frequent in sufferers prescribed greater opioid dosages.

In addition they discovered that the speed of dose discount usually was effectively past the CDC’s advice of 10% monthly. The typical discount general was 27.6% monthly. Practically 20% of sufferers tapered at a fee of 40% monthly, and 5% tapered at a fee sooner than 60% monthly.

The 2016 coverage may have been misinterpreted, main many prescribers and well being programs to insist on faster-than-recommended tapering, in accordance with Agnoli.

“There is definitely a lot of pressure to reduce opioid use among patients, but there also is a need for more training and guidance for prescribers on how to help them safely do so,” Agnoli mentioned.

Ladies and tapering

Fenton and Agnoli additionally recognized affected person variables related to tapering and uncovered an attention-grabbing distinction in tapering charges based mostly on intercourse.

Whereas males have a lot greater charges of opioid use dysfunction and opposed outcomes associated to opioids, ladies had been extra possible than males to have their opioid doses tapered.

“We think this has a lot to do with the gender dynamics of pain management and the physician-patient relationship,” Agnoli mentioned. “How women experience pain and discuss pain with their physicians is perhaps very different than men. There also could be some sex bias in terms of the patients that physicians choose to initiate conversations with about dose reduction.”

Minimizing tapering dangers

The researchers hope to construct on this work to tell finest practices for secure decision-making round dose discount for all sufferers prescribed opioids.

“Ultimately, we want to clarify the effects of tapering on patients and how to help them taper to maximize benefits and minimize risks,” Fenton mentioned. “We expect this line of research will have important implications for how physicians manage and monitor patients who are undergoing opioid tapering.”

Collaborators on this analysis had been Guibo Xing, Daniel Tancredi, Anthony Jerant and Elizabeth Magnan of UC Davis Well being, and Lillian Hold and Aylin Altan of OptumLabs in Minneapolis.

Their research was supported by UC Davis Well being and OptumLabs and is available online.

Reference: “Trends and Rapidity of Dose Tapering Among Patients Prescribed Long-term Opioid Therapy, 2008-2017” by Joshua J. Fenton, MD, MPH; Alicia L. Agnoli, MD, MPH, MHS; Guibo Xing, PhD; Lillian Hold, MBA, MPH; Aylin E. Altan, PhD; Daniel J. Tancredi, PhD; Anthony Jerant, MD; Elizabeth Magnan, MD, PhD, 15 November 2019, Pharmacy and Medical Pharmacology.
DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.16271


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