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abstracts & posters

Assessing the safety and efficacy of converting adults with sickle cell disease from full agonist opioids to buprenorphine

key information

source: American Society of Hematology

year: 2018

authors: Mandy David, Christopher Carroll, Ashley Lauriello, Benjamin Salzberg, Sophie Lanzkron


Background: The management of pain in adults with sickle cell disease (SCD) is complex, with the intermingling of both acute vaso-occlusive events and chronic daily pain. Sixty percent of adults with SCD suffer with every day chronic pain. In patients with frequent acute visits we use aggressive disease modifying therapy to decrease the risk of VOC yet there remains a subset of patients who continue to have frequent acute visits for pain. In addition, there are patients maintained on high doses of oral opioids as outpatients who continue to have high levels of daily pain. There is little data that escalating doses of opioids is associated with benefit, yet significant data to support that higher doses are associated with harms. We consider these to be cases of opioid failure. Identifying therapies for these patients that improve quality of life is essential.

Buprenorphine is a partial mu opioid receptor agonist and kappa antagonist, and has a very high affinity for the mu receptors, with an elimination half-life of 28-37 hours for the sublingual administration. The reduced risk of overdose, lower risk for misuse, diminished withdrawal symptoms, and blunting of opioid craving make it an appealing alternative to full opioid agonists in a subset of patients with SCD who continue to have significant pain or are unable to wean off of ineffective opioid therapy. The purpose of this report is to describe our experience converting patients with SCD and chronic pain from chronic opioid therapy to buprenorphine.

Conclusions: Adults with sickle cell disease on chronic full agonist opioid therapy can be safely converted to buprenorphine. Acute care utilization has dropped significantly for patients post induction. Assessment of patient reported outcomes such as quality of life and pain interference are being collected. Buprenorphine appears to be a safe and effective medication in the management of pain in adults with SCD.

organization: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA; Johns Hopkins Hospital, USA; Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, USA; University of Maryland College Park, USA

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