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Study Confirms Safe Use of Opioids for Pain Control in Sickle Cell Disease

The most common cause of hospital admission among patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) are excruciating pain crises, for which opioid medications are a mainstay of treatment. There have been questions about whether the US opioid epidemic, which has resulted in large increases in opioid-related overdoses and deaths over the past 2 decades, may have affected the death rate among patients with SCD who were treated with opioids in the hospital to relieve pain crises.

According to a study results presented at the 60th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition in San Diego, California, on December 2, 2018, the use of opioid medications for pain control in SCD is relatively safe, and there has been no associated increase in hospital SCD mortality.