Opioids are substances that relive and used to manage different kinds of pain. They suppress nerve signals in the brain and spinal cord and as a result cause drowsiness and sedation.
Related: New Drug Approved By U.S For Sickle Cell Disease
Opioids can be used to treat both acute and chronic pain in patients with sickle cell. Acute moderate pain is usually managed with a weak opioid such as codeine or oxycodone in combination with non-steroids like ibuprofen and diclofenac. On the other hand, stronger opioids are often needed for the management of severe chronic pain such as methadone, oxymorphone or fentanyl.
Sickle cell disease patients who are treated long term with opioids may actually do worse regarding pain and fatigue because its frequent use may require escalation of doses and thus can increase patients' sensitivity to pain. Physicians are cautious about prescribing opioids because of the obvious risk of addiction. This happens because pain is subjective and generally not measurable so doctors/clinicians can only rely on the patient's own statements about their levels of pain.
Due to increasing addiction in the U.S to opioids, the FDA aims to restrict the access of this drug with the goal being to avoid its misuse and abuse. At the same time, they hope to allow access for those who actually need them to manage their pain like SCD patients.
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