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Clinical Trials Update
April 23/30, 2014

Contrary to Guidelines, Teens Prescribed Opioids for Headache

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;311(16):1602. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.4453

Adolescents are often prescribed opioids for headache, despite guidelines recommending nonprescription analgesics or triptans as the first-line treatment for pediatric migraine, according to a retrospective observational analysis based on commercial claims data (DeVries A et al. J Adolesc Health. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.12.014 [published online February 26, 2014]).

Opioids are not effective for treating migraine and may lead to chronic daily headaches or abuse in young adults, stated the authors. Yet 46% of 8373 adolescents with headache received an opioid prescription. During the follow-up period (1 year or longer after the first headache diagnosis), 48% of the teens initially prescribed opioids were given 1 more prescription for opioids, and 29% received 3 more opioid prescriptions.