FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin
Pharmaceuticals / Postmarket Safety

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

Feb. 27, 2018
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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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