The Latest: New research says the future of prescription drugs is not the same as it used to be
New research from the University of Michigan suggests that there may be a “new normal” for prescription drugs that could have “unprecedented impact” on patients’ lives, and their health care.
The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, examined the use of prescription opioids and the relationship between prescription drugs and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
It also analyzed the “long-term consequences of the new normal” of prescription drug use.
The researchers say that they have “the first data on long-term adverse outcomes” from prescription drug users that “has yet to be collected” and “have identified novel risk factors for the long-terms consequences of prescription opioid use.”
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
They found that prescription drugs were linked to an increased risk of CVD and a number of other diseases, including hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity.
“We’re talking about a significant increase in CVD risk associated with the new norm of prescription-drug use,” said lead researcher Christopher M. Huggins, MD, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology and medicine at the University Health Network (UHN).
“It’s not the case of someone taking one drug and suddenly becoming a diabetic, and suddenly going into cardiac arrest.
It’s not that.”
In addition to the risk of cardiovascular disease, Huggens said that patients who are prescribed prescription drugs have higher rates of diabetes and a lower risk of developing diabetes-related complications, including high blood pressure.
In terms of the long term consequences of long-lasting use of a prescription drug, Hoggins said that the researchers “are not quite sure yet how long that will last.”
“This study provides some very compelling data that points to the potential long-range implications of long term use of opioids and prescription-related conditions,” he said.
The findings are similar to previous research that has linked long-acting opioids to a range of health problems, including higher rates, higher mortality rates, and increased risk for certain types of cancer.
“I don’t think there is any question that the opioid crisis has had profound and long-lived consequences on the health care system,” Huggis said.
Huggins and his colleagues also examined whether long-standing prescription drug dependence is associated with other health conditions, including mental health and addiction.
The researchers found that there is “little or no association” between long-duration opioid dependence and any of the other health issues the researchers examined.
“The association between long term opioid dependence or dependence and the other conditions we studied is fairly small, and the data suggest that the association with mental health problems may be smaller,” Hoggs said.
“The data is pretty consistent.”
Huggs and his team are currently working with the FDA to conduct a similar study in the future.
They plan to use data from their study to examine the effects of longterm prescription drug abuse on health outcomes in a larger, national sample.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) supported the research.
Hoggs is currently working on a follow-up study that will examine the health outcomes of the UHN participants after they stopped taking opioids.
In addition, he is currently exploring other potential studies of long period prescription drug dependency.