Long-acting opioid use and the risk of serious infections: a retrospective cohort study.

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Long-acting opioid use and the risk of serious infections: a retrospective cohort study.

Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Sep 15;:

Authors: Wiese AD, Griffin MR, Schaffner W, Stein CM, Greevy RA, Mitchel EF, Grijalva CG

Background: Although evidence from animal and human studies indicates opioid analgesics increase susceptibility to infections, it is unclear whether the risk varies by specific opioid. We compared the risk of serious infection among patients initiating long-acting opioid analgesics with and without previously reported immunosuppressive properties.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of Tennessee Medicaid enrollees age ≥18 years initiating long-acting opioids (1995-2015). Hospitalizations for serious infection were identified using validated coding algorithms. We used multivariable Poisson regression models to calculate adjusted incidence rate ratios (aIRR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) to compare the risk of infection among patients using long-acting opioids with known immunosuppressive properties (morphine, fentanyl, methadone) to patients using long-acting opioids without immunosuppressive properties (oxycodone, oxymorphone, tramadol) accounting for demographics, opioid dose, comorbidities and pain conditions, medication use, frailty indicators and healthcare encounter history using exposure propensity scores. We further compared users of individual long-acting opioids to long-acting morphine users (considered the prototypical immunosuppressive opioid).
Results: Among the 61240 patients initiating opioids with immunosuppressive properties and 22811 patients initiating opioids without immunosuppressive properties, we identified 1906 serious infections. Non-immunosuppressive opioid users had a lower rate of infections than immunosuppressive opioid users [aIRR:0.78 (95%CI:0.66-0.91)]. Among individual opioids, oxycodone users had a lower rate of infection than morphine users [aIRR:0.73 (95%CI:0.61-0.89)]. There were no significant differences in the infection risk between other opioids and morphine.
Conclusion: The risk of serious infections among long-acting opioid users varies by opioid type. Providers should carefully consider the risk of serious infections when making pain management decisions.

PMID: 30239630 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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