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Patients taking opioid medications for chronic pain over the long-term have an increased risk of serious dose-dependent harms, according to a review of the evidence on long-term opioid use by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (http://1.usa.gov/1pAbUwU). In addition, AHRQ found little evidence supporting the benefits of long-term use of opioids for chronic pain.
Chronic pain is both common and difficult to treat. Increasingly, physicians have prescribed opioid medications to patients to manage such pain, despite limited evidence on the effectiveness of these drugs for chronic noncancer pain. Now evidence has emerged that wider use of opioid medication may be causing harm, including alarming increases in overdose deaths.
Kuehn BM. AHRQ: Little Evidence for Opioids in Managing Long-term Chronic Pain. JAMA. 2014;312(12):1185. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12752