Opioids Aren’t America’s Only Painkiller Problem

There’s a well-known crisis going on with opioid painkiller abuse, but new research reveals a sizable chunk of Americans are popping far too many over-the-counter pain relievers, too.

Among those surveyed who take over-the-counter ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), 15 percent admitted to exceeding daily maximum dosage when taking either ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the study found.

NSAIDs include popular medications such as aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Aleve (naproxen) and Celebrex, a prescription pain reliever.

The researchers tracked week-long NSAID “diaries” from about 1,300 adults, completed between 2015 and 2016. All had taken an ibuprofen medication at some point in the month before completing their diaries.

Many users said they’d either exceeded the prescribed daily limit of a single NSAID; taken two different NSAIDs together; or had popped a second dose earlier than indicated.

Study author David Kaufman, director of Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center, noted that ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are among “the most-used medicines in the U.S.

“[But] most NSAID use is over-the-counter,” he added, “with users deciding what to take without involvement by health care providers.”

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SOURCES: David Kaufman, Sc.D., director, Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston University, and professor, epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health; David Katz, M.D., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn.; Jan. 26, 2017, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety

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