Conference Coverage

Prolonged opioid use among U.S. IBD patients doubled during 2002-2016



Prolonged opioid treatment of U.S. patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) roughly doubled during the 15-year period 2002-2016 based on statistics gathered in a database that included medical records from more than 40 million American patients.

Dr. Marc Landsman, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland Mitchel L. Zoler/MDedge News

Dr. Marc Landsman

Prolonged opioid treatment, defined as filling at least two prescriptions for an opioid at least 90 days apart in a calendar year, rose among patients diagnosed with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis from a low of 14% in 2002 to 26% in 2016, reaching a peak during the period of 29% in 2014, Marc Landsman, MD, said at the annual Digestive Disease Week.®

The sharpest rise during the 15-year period examined was an increase in this level of opioid use from 15% in 2004 to 21% in 2005. Prolonged opioid use remained at or above 26% of all U.S. patients identified with IBD in the database during each year from 2011 to 2016, said Dr. Landsman, a gastroenterologist at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. He suggested that a multidisciplinary approach to pain relief including alternative approaches to pain management, “will be vital” for pain management in IBD patients.

Dr. Gil Y. Melmed, director of clinical inflammatory bowel disease at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles Mitchel L. Zoler/MDedge News

Dr. Gil Y. Melmed

“Pain is a very important symptom of IBD. Opioids have been easy to prescribe, but they may not be the correct drug to prescribe,” commented Gil Y. Melmed, MD, director of clinical inflammatory bowel disease at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He agreed with Dr. Landsman that a more multidisciplinary approach to pain management, including behavioral interventions, might reduce reliance on opioids in these patients. In addition, good control of an IBD patient’s inflammatory disease with, for example, a tumor necrosis factor inhibitor often produces substantial pain reduction, although some patients may also need surgery to relieve obstructive pain, Dr. Melmed said in an interview.The analysis run by Dr. Landsman and his associates used data in the Explorys database that included 276,340 unique patients with a diagnosis in their insurance record of IBD who also underwent either flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy during the year when they first received the diagnosis.

The study also analyzed the type of medical insurance used by patients who received prolonged opioid treatment. During 2002, 43% of patients who received an opioid for a prolonged period had Medicare coverage, 35% had private insurance, and 20% had Medicaid coverage. The prevalence of Medicare and private insurance coverage among opioid recipients steadily shifted during the next 14 years, so that in 2016 private insurance was the most prevalent coverage among the IBD patients on prolonged opioid use, at 46%, with 33% on Medicare coverage and 15% covered by Medicaid. The changes in the prevalence of Medicare and private insurance coverage from 2002 to 2016 were statistically significant, Dr. Landsman said.

Dr. Landsman and Dr. Melmed had no relevant disclosures.

SOURCE: Landsman M et al. DDW 2018. Presentation 14.

Next Article: