Low-Dose Opioids May be Safe in Patients with Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on Long-Term Oxygen Therapy
Opioid and benzodiazepine medications have the potential to decrease some symptoms in patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but their safety in this population is unclear. Researchers analyzed national prospective data from 2249 Swedish adults (≥45 years of age; 59% women) who initiated long-term oxygen therapy for COPD. Exposure to opioids and benzodiazepines was extracted from a national medication registry and defined as ≥1 prescriptions in the 91 days before initiation of oxygen therapy.
- In the 91 days before study entry, 23% of participants had exposure to opioids, 24% to benzodiazepines, and 9% to both.
- 50% of participants died during a median 1.1 years of follow-up.
- Participants who were prescribed higher doses of opioids (>30 mg morphine equivalents in a day) had higher mortality, but those prescribed lower doses (≤30 mg) did not.
- Participants exposed to benzodiazepines had higher mortality, but there was no definite dose-response.
- Participants who were prescribed high concurrent doses of opioids and benzodiazepines had higher mortality, but those prescribed low concurrent doses did not.