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Study: Long-term use of controlled-release oxycodone for noncancer pain: results of a 3-year registry study

opioid pain medication

Study authors: Russell K Portenoy 1, John T Farrar, Misha-Miroslav Backonja, Charles S Cleeland, Kaity Yang, Michael Friedman, Salvatore V Colucci, Patricia Richards

Year: 2007

Information courtesy of Kev James, Chronic Pain Patient Advocate. LinkedIn

Read the full study here.

This study was designed to evaluate the outcomes associated with the use of controlled-release (CR) oxycodone for up to 3 years in the treatment of noncancer pain.

This is a rare study, in that 233 patients who were taking controlled release oxycodone were followed long term, for up to three years.  The mean duration was 541.5 days and the mean daily dose was 52.5mg..  The participants suffered from various chronic pain conditions, including osteoarthritis pain, diabetic neuropathy pain and/or low back pain.

After three months of treatment, the large majority of patients, who were on stable doses, the average pain intensity scores were  unchanged or improved for approximately 70 to 80% of patients.  The most common adverse events were not serious, including constipation and nausea, and the incidence of these events declined over time on treatment. 

There were six cases (2.6%) of possible drug misuse, but there is no information on what constitutes ‘drug misuse’.  No evidence of addiction was observed.

The final outcome is stated as:

These registry data demonstrate that a subgroup of patients with chronic non-cancer  pain experienced prolonged relief with tolerable side effects and modest need for dose escalation during long-term therapy with controlled-release oxycodone.

This result clearly flies in the face of what medical practitioners, politicians and the media constantly report. 

This study clearly finds that for the majority of patients in this study, long-term opioid therapy provided sustained pain relief, with little need for dose increases. There were no serious side effects and the side effects waned over time.  Most importantly of all, there were NO cases of addiction or overdose, which is the reason most often used for non-prescription and/or involuntary tapering of chronic non-cancer pain patients off opioids.

This study shows that opioids are safe and effective long term, for some patients. The media and health professionals are misrepresenting the risks, exaggerating the incidence of overdose and addiction and minimising the pain relief obtained.

Opioids are a valuable therapy for chronic pain that must not be denied to chronic non-cancer patients on the grounds of lack of efficacy or fear of adverse events.

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