Opioid use “substantial” among people with moderate to severe psoriasis

A recent study looked at a database of privately insured people that included about 9,000 psoriasis patients, of whom just over 2,000 were identified as having moderate to severe psoriasis. It found that about 25% of those 2,000 received opioids, compared to 16% of otherwise-comparable people without psoriasis. The figure is understandable given that those with moderate to severe psoriasis frequently also have psoriatic arthritis.

The study also found that more than 40% of moderate to severe psoriasis patients developed at least one comorbidity over the first 12 months following their psoriasis diagnosis. Finally, as might be expected, those with more comorbidities used opioids at a higher rate.

As the medical community and various levels of government try to rein in opiod abuse, it is important that people in pain who are not abusing opioids be able to continue to access them. Already, anecdotal reports are surfacing of people with arthritis and other issues claiming they are being restricted from their past opioid doses that have allowed them to function despite severe pain.

These are difficult public policy and health issues with competing interests. Replacement medications like gabapentin can help, but opioids serve many patients well and the backlash against opiods being overprescribed, overused, and abused by some must not also harm patients who legitimately rely on them to fight severe pain.

[Last updated 11-4-2019]