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scientific articles

The Opioid Drug Epidemic and Sickle Cell Disease: Guilt by Association

key information

source: Pain Medicine: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine

year: 2016

authors: Ruta NS, Ballas SK


In 2008, for the first time in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) history, death due to motor vehicle accident was no longer the leading cause of injury mortality non-medical death. Drug overdose was the number one cause of non-medical death in the United States.

Since 2008, the number of deaths due to drug overdose has been increasing steadily. The total number of deaths due to drug overdose was 36,450 in 2008. In 2013, the total amount of deaths due to drug overdose was 43,982. Given the alarming nature of these statistics, patients who requested an opioid prescription became targets of suspicion and possible accusation of being drug addicts and/or drug seekers and possibly potential victims of overdose.

The advent of precision medicine, however, seems to justify such behavior. Since the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of an opioid vary among patients considerably depending on their individual specific genetic and epigenetic factors, it is conceivable that a certain opioid or a certain dose of an opioid do not apply to all patients all the time.

organization: Thomas Jefferson University, USA

DOI: 10.1093/pm/pnw074

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