Pharmaceutical Pain Medicines and The Immune System
The opioid crisis flung open the investigative doors of pharmaceutical medicines and the immune system. There are always ongoing studies trying to decipher exactly how every medication works, its side effects and how it can be safer. When a prescription is filled it comes with a long list of warnings, it concludes with words similar to these, “your doctor has concluded that the benefits of taking this medicine outweigh the risks.” It is a disclaimer that acknowledges that there may be side effects in using the medicine.
The longer a medication is in the public domain and being readily prescribed the more data that is collected on it. Sometimes the medications are deemed safe and end up as an over-the-counter product that anyone can purchase and self-prescribe.
The Effects of Pain Medicines
Doctors from every specialty are likely to prescribe pain medications to a wide variety of patients and maladies. It is their right to prescribe these medications, the question becomes, is it in the scope of their expertise. It would be rare for a heart specialist to decide that he has the expertise to treat a patient who should be seeing an otolaryngologists. The same applies to someone with a complex hearing problem being treated by a podiatrist. Despite pain management being a medical specialty every doctor dabbles in it when they prescribe pain medications for patients.
Acute pain no doubt needs to be addressed by the attending physician no matter the specialty. However, when it turns into chronic pain is being addressed by a continuous refill of the pain medication, the patient should be referred to a Pain Management Specialist.
The opioid crisis in America began innocently enough. The pharmaceutical companies developed more powerful pain relievers. The addiction consequences were downplayed, minimized by salespeople, and ignored by doctors when their patients found pain relief.
In this case there were studies that indicated that the power of this new class of pain-relieving opioids were highly addictive. They were glossed over. It took a while for rehabs to fill up and everyone to realize that the death rate from these readily accessible opioids were skyrocketing. Eventually everyone paid attention, the government, medical communities, researchers and finally the pharmaceutical companies that were manufacturing them and now being held liable.
Research into Common Pain Relivers
Researchers in the search for safer non-addictive pain relievers have reopened investigations of how pain relivers work. A study being conducted at the University of Sydney with the researchers from Faculty of Medicine and Health turned into, “The largest clinical review of immune response to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioid analgesics, paracetamol (acetaminophen) has provided insight into the unintended effects of these commonly used medications, according to new study results.” As noted by Pharmacy Times.
The initial investigation according to Christina Abdel-Shaheed, PhD, planned on examining the impacts of acetaminophen use during the pandemic. It had unintended consequences which showed that commonly used OTC pain relievers were affecting the immune system of the body in both negative and positive ways.
New Uses for Old Drugs
The study showed some interesting immune responses from commonly used drugs. From Pharmacy Times, “Investigators found that morphine was able to suppress key cells of the immune system and increase the risk of infection, particularly after cancer surgery.
Additionally, antipyretics, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen, can reduce the desirable immune response when taken after a vaccination. Aspirin can also be an accessible and affordable therapeutic option for tuberculosis, which mainly affects poor countries, and it has also shown beneficial results in animals and humans.”
What does it all mean? Further research is needed to study the pathways in the body for pain relief medicines as well as new precautions for those who are self-medicating for pain. It is one more reason to seek the care of a Pain Management Specialist to properly manage it.