A study has found that men taking prescription pain pills in high doses and over time are likelier to experience erectile dysfunction (ED).
The study, published in the journal, Spine, found that men taking high doses of prescription painkillers for more than four months were 50 percent likelier to need ED treatment when compared to men who were not taking pain killers, according to Fox News. The researchers reviewed the health records of 11,000 men who were taking prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, for chronic back pain treatment. A high dose of an opioid was considered to be the equivalent of 80 milligrams of Oxycontin daily, or 120 milligrams of morphine.
Some 19 percent of the men who were taking an opioid over long periods experienced ED; however, the study team said the number could be greater. “That could well be an underestimate, because many don’t bring it to their doctors attention, would be embarrassed or wouldn’t connect it to medication,” lead study author Dr. Richard Deyo, from the Kaiser Permanante Center for Health Research at Oregon Health & Science University, in Portland Oregon, told FoxNews.com.
The researchers also pointed out that opioids have been associated with testosterone level changes. “Opioids suppress testosterone levels,” Deyo said. “It’s clear that people taking long-term opioids have testosterone levels well below normal,” he added, according to Fox News.
Deyo also told Fox News that the findings add to much information that has pointed to avoiding the long-term use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain, pointing out that long-term use can lead to a tolerance of the drugs and hypersensitivity to pain. “Patients need to be aware that these medications may not be effective in the long-term for treating chronic pain—they are certainly effective for short-term pain, but not (in the) long run,” Deyo told Fox News.
We’ve long written that opioids are associated with serious risks of overuse, abuse, misuse, and death and the numbers continue to rise. Physician prescribing practices are among the contributing factors in the growing opioid epidemic being seen in America and worldwide.
The main culprit, Oxycontin (oxycodone) was first introduced in 1917; however until the 1990s, opioid medications were only absorbable by the body by injection. When a U.S. company purchased the rights to oxycodone, it was long out of its patent; the company devised a way for the drug to be absorbed in the body when taken orally, a breakthrough for patients suffering with severe cancer pain.
It was when Oxycontin was touted for all types of chronic pain—back pain, arthritis—and being advertised as a non-addictive alternative to other painkillers, that the situation began escalating.
In 2007, Purdue Pharma, which makes Oxycontin, pleaded guilty to misbranding the drug “with intent to defraud and mislead the public,” paying $635 million in penalties. By the time Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty, the truth about the drug was being seen—that it caused serious side effects, did not last the 12 hours advertised, was addictive, and caused serious withdrawal symptoms when stopped.