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Uncovering Potential Side Effects of Pain Medications: A Study on Gabapentinoids in Medicare Patients

Sep 11, 2023, 09:40 AM by SCOA

A new study by Yong-Fang Kuo, Efstathia Polychronopoulou, and Mukaila Raji investigates the safety of gabapentinoid medications used for pain management compared to opioids in Medicare patients. It reveals unexpected side effects like potential links to stroke and cancer in gabapentinoid users, suggesting the need for further research and careful consideration in prescribing these drugs. Read the article online, Signal detection of adverse events associated with gabapentinoid use for chronic pain.

In recent years, doctors have been prescribing a type of medication called gabapentinoids (GABA) more often, thinking it might be a safer alternative to opioids for managing pain. This study looked at the possible side effects or problems associated with taking GABA medications.

Researchers looked at a group of people on Medicare who were diagnosed with chronic pain between 2017 and 2018. They divided them into three groups: those who took GABA medication for at least 30 days in a row, those who took opioids, and those who didn't take either of these types of drugs. They made sure the groups were similar in terms of age, health, and other factors.

They then analyzed the data and found some signals. Within three months, people taking GABA medications seemed to have a higher risk of immune system problems compared to those taking opioids. They also found some potential issues related to transplanted organs, mental health disorders, and skin problems in GABA users. Additionally, there was a potential link between GABA use and stroke within three months, which was not expected. They also saw hints of some types of cancer within a year in people taking GABA.

In conclusion, this study uncovered both expected and unexpected signals of side effects associated with GABA medications. Some of the side effects might be related to why people are taking these medications in the first place, like nerve problems. However, there were also some unexpected findings, such as the potential link to stroke and cancer, which need more research to confirm. Overall, this information can help doctors make better decisions when it comes to pain management for their patients.

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