Opioid use found to increase risk of serious bacterial infection

A new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine has found that opioid users are at a higher risk of serious bacterial infection.

  • The researchers of the study at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) assessed whether prescription opioid use is an independent risk factor for serious bacterial infections called invasive pneumococcal diseases.
  • Invasive pneumococcal diseases are serious infections caused by the bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. These diseases could lead to various illnesses such as meningitis, bacteremia, and invasive pneumonia.
  • The research team used data from the Tennessee Medicaid to measure everyday prescription opioid exposure for every participant in the study.
  • They also combined this information with Active Bacterial Core (ABC) surveillance system data, which is a VUMC laboratory and population-based surveillance system carried out together with the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep track of invasive infectious diseases in Tennessee.
  • The results of the study revealed that people who used opioids had a 1.62 times higher risk of invasive pneumococcal diseases compared to those who did not use opioids.
  • Those who use opioids at high doses, which were classified as high potency and long-acting, were found to have the highest risk of invasive pneumococcal diseases.
  • It was also revealed that opioids previously described as immunosuppressive in past experimental research conducted in animals had the strongest association with invasive pneumococcal diseases in humans.

In conclusion, the findings of the study indicate that opioid use is associated with an increased risk for invasive pneumococcal diseases.

Journal Reference:

Andrew D. Wiese, Marie R. Griffin, William Schaffner, Michael Stein, Robert A. Greevy, Edward F. Mitchel Jr., Carlos G. Grijalva. OPIOID ANALGESIC USE AND RISK FOR INVASIVE PNEUMOCOCCAL DISEASES: A NESTED CASE–CONTROL STUDY. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2017. DOI: 10.7326/M17-1907

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