A new study came out recently that has compared the most commonly used pain pills such as Vicodin and Oxycontin known as Opioids. The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine by the researchers of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Medicare patients who take opioids for pain are at higher risk for heart problems, fractures and even death compared to those that take non-opioid pain pills.
They compared these opioids with older ones like Ibuprofen and Advil, which are known as anti-inflammatory drugs. They also compared them with the new pain pills that have now been taken off the market like Celebrex and Vioxx.
The focus was on the opioids because of the increased use in the last few years. Between 2001 and 2006 the use of Vicodin and Oxycodone nearly doubled.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of fatalities from opioid poisoning more than tripled between 1999 and 2006.
The reports also looked at rates of serious problems that could occur after 30 days and 180 days with patients that were taking one of the opioids. Researchers found that those taking Oxycodone or Codeine were twice as likely to die from any cause compared to those who were on Vicodin.
They also found that those that were taking Codeine for at least 3 months had a 62 percent increased risk of cardiovascular problems.
The FDA has warned against opioids in recent years because of their addictive nature and because they are not sure how safe they are for long term and short term use.
Patients that are on pain pills need to be educated on risks and even the benefits. They need to follow directions and take them under the supervision of a doctor.
Research needs to continue to answer more questions, but with this study doctors need to be aware of what they are giving their patients and what conditions their patients might be prone to.