- The United States is in the midst of a national opioid epidemic. Physicians are encouraged both to prevent and treat opioid-use disorders (OUDs). Although there are 3 Food and Drug Administration-approved medications to treat OUD (methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone) and there is ample evidence of their efficacy, they are not used as often as they should. We provide a brief review of the 3 primary medications used in the treatment of OUD. Using data from available medical literature, we synthesize existing knowledge and provide a framework for how to determine the optimal approach for outpatient management of OUD with medication-assisted treatments.
- Constipation is a common symptom that may be primary (idiopathic or functional) or associated with a number of disorders or medications. Although most constipation is self-managed by patients, 22% seek health care, mostly to primary care physicians (>50%) and gastroenterologists (14%), resulting in large expenditures for diagnostic testing and treatments. There is strong evidence that stimulant and osmotic laxatives, intestinal secretagogues, and peripherally restricted μ-opiate antagonists are effective and safe; the lattermost drugs are a major advance for managing opioid-induced constipation.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is associated with diverse pathophysiologic mechanisms. These mechanisms include increased abnormal colonic motility or transit, intestinal or colorectal sensation, increased colonic bile acid concentration, and superficial colonic mucosal inflammation, as well as epithelial barrier dysfunction, neurohormonal up-regulation, and activation of secretory processes in the epithelial layer. Novel approaches to treatment include lifestyle modification, changes in diet, probiotics, and pharmacotherapy directed to the motility, sensation, and intraluminal milieu of patients with IBS.
- Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a monogenic disorder that afflicts approximately 100,000 Americans and millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by hemolytic anemia, vaso-occlusive crises, relentless end-organ injury, and premature death. Currently, red blood cell transfusion and hydroxyurea are the major disease-modifying therapies available for SCD. Hematopoetic stem cell transplant is curative, but barriers to treatment are substantial and include a lack of suitable donors, immunologic transplant rejection, long-term adverse effects, prognostic uncertainty, and poor end-organ function, which is especially problematic for older patients.
- The opioid crisis that exists today developed over the past 30 years. The reasons for this are many. Good intentions to improve pain and suffering led to increased prescribing of opioids, which contributed to misuse of opioids and even death. Following the publication of a short letter to the editor in a major medical journal declaring that those with chronic pain who received opioids rarely became addicted, prescriber attitude toward opioid use changed. Opioids were no longer reserved for treatment of acute pain or terminal pain conditions but now were used to treat any pain condition.