Increasing Prescription of Opiates and Mortality in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in England

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Background & AimsThe prescription of opiate medications is increasing. Individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) can develop serious complications from opiate use, but few data are available on the prescription of these drugs to patients with IBD. We examined trends in prescriptions of opiates and their association with all-cause mortality in individuals with IBD.MethodsWe performed a retrospective cohort study of 3517 individuals with Crohn’s disease (CD) and 5349 with ulcerative colitis (UC) using the primary care database ResearchOne, which holds de-identified clinical and administrative information from the health records of approximately 6 million persons (more than 10% of the total population) in England. We explored trends in prescriptions of all opiates, codeine, tramadol, or strong opiates, separately from 1990 through September 14, 2014. Associations between opiates and all-cause mortality were examined using propensity score-matched analysis.ResultsThere was a statistically significant increase in the prescription of opiate medications, with 10% of subjects receiving an opiate prescription from 1990 through 1993 compared to 30% from 2010 through 2013 (chi-square for trend, P < .005). Prescription of strong opiates was significantly associated with increased premature mortality of patients with CD (heavy use) or UC (moderate or heavy use). There was a significant association between heavy use of any opiate or codeine alone and premature mortality of patients with UC. Use of tramadol alone, or in combination with codeine, was not associated with premature mortality in patients with CD or UC.ConclusionsIn an analysis of primary care patients with IBD in England, we found prescriptions for opiate drugs to have increased significantly from 1990 through 2013. Heavy use of strong opiates among patients with IBD associates with increased all-cause premature mortality.

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