The following article is a part of conference coverage from the 2019 American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Professionals (ACR/ARP) Annual Meeting, being held in Atlanta, Georgia. The team at Rheumatology Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in rheumatology. Check back for more from the 2019 ACR/ARP Annual Meeting.

ATLANTA — There was a substantial increase in opioid prescription rates among patients with rheumatic diseases between 2000 and 2016, according to study results presented at the 2019 American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Professionals (ACR/ARP) Annual Meeting, held November 8 to 13, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Using data from a general population database in the United Kingdom, researchers assessed contemporary opioid prescribing patterns in patients with rheumatic diseases between January 2000 and December 2016. The study included 26,267 patients with fibromyalgia, 39,954 with inflammatory arthritis, 9800 with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases, and 135,130 with gout. Within each cohort, opioid prescriptions increased until 2012, and then remained constant until 2016.

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In 2016, 45.2%, 36.7%, 24.0%, and 14.8% of patients in each cohort, respectively, received opioid prescriptions. The most commonly prescribed individual opioid was tramadol, with a prevalence of 19.4%, 13.0%, 8.7%, and 5.2% among patients, respectively; 20.1%, 15.2%, 10.1%, and 3.6% of patients, respectively, received prescriptions for stronger opioids. Among all 4 cohorts, patients with fibromyalgia were most likely to receive new opioid prescriptions, with an increase in rates from 12.8% in 2000 to 22.6% in 2016. The annual incidence of new opioid prescriptions was lowest among patients with gout (5.3% in 2000 to 9.5% in 2016).

“We identified a substantial rise in the rates of opioid prescriptions among patients with rheumatic diseases,” the researchers concluded. “These findings highlight the importance of increased awareness, as this population may be at risk for opioid-related complications.”

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.

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Jorge A, Lu N, Choi HK. Opioid prescription use among patients with rheumatic disease: a population based cohort study. Presented at: 2019 ACR/ARP Annual Meeting; November 8-13, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia. Abstract 2048.