Andrew Moon, MD, MPH: Opioid Use High in NAFLD Patients

September 29, 2020
Kenny Walter

Kenny Walter is an editor with HCPLive. Prior to joining MJH Life Sciences in 2019, he worked as a digital reporter covering nanotechnology, life sciences, material science and more with R&D Magazine. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Temple University in 2008 and began his career as a local reporter for a chain of weekly newspapers based on the Jersey shore. When not working, he enjoys going to the beach and enjoying the shore in the summer and watching North Carolina Tar Heel basketball in the winter.

As part of the TARGET-NASH study, researchers find 18% of NAFLD patients are prescribed opioids because of pain.

Opioid use is high among patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to new data.

As part of the ongoing TARGET-NASH study, investigators have discovered that 18% of NAFLD patients are prescribed opioids to treat the pain related to their condition.

The report shows opioid use is more common in NAFLD patients with cirrhosis, higher body mass indexes (BMI), and comorbid psychiatric disorders.

Overall, cirrhosis, depression, and anxiety were among the variables associated with opioid use, while a history of back pain, depression, and fibromyalgia had the greatest relative importance in predicting opioid use.

Of the 3747 adult patients in the study, opioid use was more common in patients with more advanced liver disease (12.0% NAFL, 17.7% NASH, 23.9% NAFLD cirrhosis).

In an interview with HCPLive®, Andrew Moon, MD, MPH, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, explained how the findings could help doctors come up with plans to find alternatives to opioids for some patients.

TARGET-NASH is an observational study of participants with NAFLD and/or NASH in usual clinical practice and is part of a series of Target studies targeted several diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.


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