HealthDay News — Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are more likely to use opioids than persons without SLE, and most SLE patients who use opioids do so for more than one year, according to research published in the Sept. 27 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Emily C. Somers, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues compared prescription opioid use in 462 patients with SLE from the population-based Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance Cohort and 192 frequency-matched persons without SLE.

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The researchers found that during the study period (2014 to 2015), 31 percent of SLE patients and 8 percent of persons without SLE were using prescription opioids. Among SLE patients using opioids, 68 and 22 percent were using them for more than one year and were concomitantly using two or more opioid medications, respectively. For SLE patients, the likelihood of using prescription opioids was increased about twofold for those using the emergency department (odds ratio, 2.1).

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“Given the risks for opioid therapy and the lack of pain efficacy data in SLE, it is important that clinicians managing SLE, including providers in emergency departments, be aware of the potential adverse effects of opioid therapy in these patients, consider nonopioid pain management strategies, and be familiar with guidance for opioid tapering or discontinuation when patients are not achieving treatment goals of reduced pain and increased function or when otherwise indicated,” the authors write.

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