FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin
Pharmaceuticals / Postmarket Safety

Opioid Painkillers Can Increase Risk of Meningitis, Pneumonia Infection, Study Finds

Feb. 27, 2018

Taking some opioid painkillers increases the risk of deadly infections, according to an analysis of data from TennCare, Tennessee’s state Medicaid program.

Opioid users run a risk for meningitis and pneumonia about 60 percent higher than that of non-opioid users, according to the research by a team at Vanderbilt University.

Certain opioids are known to have immunosuppressive properties, but the research team found an association for both pneumonia and non-pneumonia invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), “which indicated that the association cannot be fully attributed to opioid-related respiratory depression and aspiration,” according to the team’s lead author Andrew Wiese, a postdoctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine.

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