Researcher Publishes on the Long Term Benefits of Opiates in Chronic Pain.

By R Carter

It’s noteworthy to point out that in reviewing the 66 references cited in this publication, more than 55 of them were published prior to 2016. Meaning the same research was available to the CDC before they published their 2016 Guidelines for Chronic Pain. Yet the CDC claims no research on the long term use of opiates in chronic pain were available, or that what they did review, was inconclusive.

It would appear the expert panel the CDC used to review literature was not so expert. That or, they only looked for research that fit the conclusions they wanted to draw. Our tax dollars at works once again….

Introduction: Opioids have been used for millennia for the treatment of pain. However, the long-term efficacy of opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain continues to be debated. To evaluate opioids’ efficacy in chronic non-cancer pain, we performed a meta-analysis of published clinical trials for μ-opioid receptor agonists performed for US Food and Drug Administration approval. 

Methods: MEDLINE and Cochrane trial register were searched for enriched enrollment randomized withdrawal studies (before June 2016). Selection criteria included: adults, ≥10 subjects per arm, any chronic pain condition, double-blind treatment period lasting ≥12 weeks, and all μ-agonist opioids approved in the USA. 

Results: Fifteen studies met criteria. Opioid efficacy was statistically significant (p<0.001) versus placebo for pain intensity (standardized mean difference: −0.416), ≥30% and ≥50% improvement in pain (risk difference: 0.166 and 0.137), patient global impression of change (0.163), and patient global assessment of study medication (0.194). There were minor benefits on physical function and no effect on mental function. 

Conclusion: Opioids are efficacious in the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain for up to 3 months in randomized controlled trials. This should be considered, alongside data on opioid safety, in the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain.