Anesthesiology, Author Interviews, Opiods, Pain Research, Surgical Research / 18.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bryan Sakamoto MD, PhD Department of Anesthesia Richard L. Roudebush, Veterans Affairs Medical Center Department of Anesthesia Indiana University School of Medicine Indianapolis, Indiana MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Liposomal bupivacaine is a novel extended-duration anesthetic that has recently become a popular option in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) for post-operative pain management. Although liposomal bupivacaine is widely used, it is unknown if the benefits justify the cost in the veteran population at our institution. The main purpose of this medication use study was to evaluate the cost verses benefit of using this agent in our veteran patient population.
Author Interviews, FASEB, Heart Disease, Imperial College, Pain Research, Pharmacology / 17.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_28945" align="alignleft" width="149"]Dr Nicholas Kirkby BHF Intermediate Fellow | Vascular Biology National Heart & Lung Institute | Imperial College London London Dr Nicholas Kirkby[/caption] Dr Nicholas Kirkby BHF Intermediate Fellow | Vascular Biology National Heart & Lung Institute | Imperial College London London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We know drugs like ibuprofen, called ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs’ cause an increase in the risk of heart attacks. These side effects cause very real concerns for the many millions of people who rely on them. They are also the reason why there are no new drugs in this class and why they have been withdrawn (2011) for use as a preventative treatment for colon cancer. Previous research from our group suggests that L-arginine supplements may prevent the cardiovascular side effects caused by these drugs. Our findings here suggest that a particular formulations of ibuprofen, called ibuprofen arginate, which is already available in many parts of the world, can act like an L-arginine supplement and that this could potentially protect the cardiovascular system.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Opiods, Pain Research / 26.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_28168" align="alignleft" width="200"]Jaren Howard, PharmD, BCPS Associate Director, Medical Affairs Strategic Research Purdue Pharma L.P. Dr. Jared Howard[/caption] Jaren Howard, PharmD, BCPS Associate Director Medical Affairs Strategic Research Purdue Pharma L.P. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The existing scientific literature estimating the healthcare burden of opioid misuse disorders often combines all patients within the broad category of “opioid abuse,” defined as opioid abuse, dependence, or overdose/poisoning. Collectively, these three conditions can significantly increase healthcare costs among commercially insured patients. • Real world medical coding practices present challenges to researchers aiming to separately analyze excess costs by diagnosis, though combining these diagnoses may mask some variation in excess costs. • Furthermore, little is known about the specific drivers of excess costs in terms of medical conditions driving excess costs or places of service at the diagnosis-level.
Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods, Pain Research / 21.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Thomas Alfieri, PhD Director, Medical Affairs Strategic Research Purdue Pharma L.P. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: When researchers assess the abuse potential of opioids, they follow current FDA guidance, which stipulates that questions such as “Do you like this drug?” and “How much would you like to take this drug again?” be asked of recreational drug users. We think that assessing abuse potential among recreational users provides useful information, however, we believe that the questions designed to be asked of recreational users are not appropriate for use with pain patients. These items can confuse the liking of a drug for pain relief with the liking of a drug to get high – two very different reasons that a pain patient might want to take a drug again. In theory, abuse potential could be overestimated among pain patients because of the somewhat general nature of the items used in the survey instrument.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Opiods, Pain Research / 21.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_28168" align="alignleft" width="200"]Jaren Howard, PharmD, BCPS Associate Director, Medical Affairs Strategic Research Purdue Pharma L.P. Dr. Jared Howard[/caption] Jaren Howard, PharmD, BCPS Associate Director, Medical Affairs Strategic Research Purdue Pharma L.P. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Opioid abuse, dependence, overdose, and poisoning (referred to collectively for the purposes of this study as “abuse”) represent a costly public health concern to payers. Excess annual costs for a diagnosed opioid abuser range from $10,000-$20,000 per patient. Current literature does not sufficiently address the drivers of excess costs in terms of medical conditions driving costs or places of service.
Author Interviews, Opiods, Pain Research / 21.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Angela DeVeaugh-Geiss, PhD Director, Epidemiology, Purdue Pharma L.P. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Due to widespread abuse, including abuse via non-oral routes (eg, snorting, injecting), OxyContin was reformulated with abuse deterrent properties in August 2010. In this study we explored changes in nonmedical use of OxyContin after the reformulation using public use data files from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). NSDUH has included questions about nonmedical use of OxyContin (including pill images) since 2004. Nonmedical use is defined as use without a prescription or use that occurred simply for the experience or feeling the drug caused.
Addiction, Author Interviews, CDC, Opiods, Pain Research / 27.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: John Halpin, MD, MPH, Medical officer Prescription Drug Overdose Epidemiology and Surveillance Team CDC Injury Center MedicalReseach.com editor’s note: Dr. Halpern discusses the CDC alert of August 25, 2016 regarding the increase in fentanyl-related unintentional overdose fatalities in multiple states. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this alert? Response: The current health alert is an update to a previous alert in October, 2015 from CDC which described the geographic spread of states in which forensic labs were increasingly detecting fentanyl in the drug submissions that they receive from law enforcement, and how many of these same states were beginning to report fentanyl-related overdose deaths by their departments of public health. Further investigation by CDC and DEA have revealed that the great majority of fentanyl now present in the illicit drugs market is clandestinely-produced, and most commonly mixed with and sold as heroin, and is responsible for the great majority of fentanyl-related overdose deaths. Indications at the time of that alert pointed to a likely continuous rise in the supply of illicitly-manufactured fentanyl, and the potential for increasing numbers of fentanyl-related overdose deaths, particularly among those who use heroin.
Author Interviews, Pain Research, Pediatrics / 15.08.2016

[caption id="attachment_26992" align="alignleft" width="200"]Buzzy: Drug Free Pain Control Buzzy: Drug Free Pain Control[/caption] MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Amy Baxter MD CEO MMJ Labs LLC MedicalResearch.com: Would you tell us a little about your background? How did you develop an interest in pain management and prevention? [caption id="attachment_26993" align="alignleft" width="164"]Amy Baxter MD CEO MMJ Labs LLC Dr. Amy Baxter[/caption] Response: As a pediatric emergency doctor, I found it interesting that doctors could prevent pain but sometimes couldn't be bothered to do so. The lack of empathy and impatience is built into emergency training - we learn to diagnose and fix things quickly, not comfort and support. I decided to research how pain management would make procedures more successful, or faster, to convince doctors to use pain management for THEIR benefit. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for the Buzzy(r) device? How does it impact pain sensation? Response: When my 4 year old had a horrible vaccination experience, I realized that a fast effective parent-controlled option for pain relief was needed. I knew that cold running water could eliminate the pain from a burned finger using physiology called gate control. Basically, the small pain nerves run alongside big motion nerves, so if you heavily stimulate motion you scramble the pain sensation. Rubbing a bumped elbow is another good example. Vibration alone didn't work enough for needles, but when I added ice the two sensations of cold and motion eliminated pain in 84% of seniors getting a flu shot. We got a grant from the NIH to develop and study Buzzy - it's a palm sized vibration unit with a place on the back to attach ice "wings", that freeze solid. You put them both where an injection will go for a minute or less, then move them "between the brain and the pain" while doing a needle procedure. There are about 14 studies on IV access or blood draws and 6 on injections, showing between 50 and 88% pain reduction. Several studies have demonstrated that Buzzy is truly a physiologic intervention, not a distraction: it didn't work for injections when only used for 10 seconds, too little time to block the pain nerves. But it worked really well for blood draws in severely cognitively impaired children for whom distraction wasn't an option.
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Pain Research / 15.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_26123" align="alignleft" width="133"]Romy Lauche, PhD Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM) Faculty of Health | University of Technology Sydney Dr. Romy Lauche[/caption] Romy Lauche, PhD Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM) Faculty of Health | University of Technology Sydney MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many people are affected by persistent or recurrent neck pain. So far the only intervention with real benefit is exercise therapy, independent of the type of exercise used. Despite the fact that musculoskeletal disorders including back and neck pain have been found predictive of Tai Chi use, no study to date has investigated its potential in the treatment of chronic non-specific neck pain. Our study found that 12 weeks of Tai Chi significantly reduced neck pain intensity, and improved quality of life, however no differences were found between Tai Chi and conventional neck exercises. Both interventions were well tolerated, and participants were satisfied with either intervention.
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Opiods, Pain Research, Thromboembolism / 14.07.2016

[caption id="attachment_26111" align="alignleft" width="125"]Brian Meshkin Founder and CEO of Proove Biosciences Brian Meshkin[/caption] MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Brian Meshkin Founder and CEO of Proove Biosciences Editor’s note: Proove Biosciences, Inc introduced three new evidence-based tests to support better clinical decision-making for difficult-to-treat conditions that are influenced by genetics. These conditions include substance abuse, fibromyalgia and venous thromboembolism. The tests are especially relevant in light of the House of Representatives passing the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) bill on July 8, 2016 to combat the opioid epidemic. MedicalResearch.com: Would you update our readers on the significance and implications of the CARA Act? What is the role of genetics in addiction? What is the background for the Proove Addiction™ Profile? How does it aid in addiction management? Response: CARA is a national piece of legislation to expand access to treatment for drug overdoses and addiction. It also includes some other provisions meant to help address the opioid epidemic. However, there are some serious implications. First, it does not contain any funding, so it is a bit of a “Potemkin Village”. It is also a bit of a façade because it does not address 50% of the equation. According to the definition of addiction from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA), about half of substance abuse is due to genetic factors. If you are studying for a test and ignoring half of the material, chances are you are not going to do well on the test. As doctors are confronted with the challenges of objectively assessing pain and knowing which patients are at risk for abuse, they must consider genetics. The Proove Opioid Risk test combines genetic markers and phenotypic variables into an algorithm to effectively identify patients at low, moderate and high risk for opioid abuse. By knowing this information, a physician can make better decisions about opioids. For low risk patients, a physician can safely prescribe and a patient does not need to fear the opioid prescription they are given – as this is about 50% of the population. For those at moderate risk, a physician can use a greater level of vigilance to monitor those patients with abuse-deterrent formulations, regular urine drug screens, opioid contracts, and other tools to monitor their use. For the small number of patients – less than 10% - that are at high risk, a physician can use alternative forms of pain relief such as interventional procedures or non-opioid analgesics to provide the needed relief to patients. The Proove Addiction Profile builds on this commitment, by providing genetic data points related to other disorders, such as addictions to alcohol, heroin, cocaine and others. Unfortunately, many patients who screen positive for aberrant behavior, such as having an illicit drug in their urine, are often discharged from care by their doctor. This just gets them lost in the system. By running the Proove Addiction Profile in addition to a urine drug screen, a doctor can better understand the genetic factors associated with the aberrant behavior and refer the troubled patient to an addiction specialist for treatment.
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, CMAJ, Pain Research / 13.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_25902" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jason Busse PhD Department of Anesthesia Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics McMaster University Hamilton, ON Dr. Jason Busse[/caption] Jason Busse PhD Department of Anesthesia Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics McMaster University Hamilton, ON MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Persistent pain after breast cancer surgery affects up to 60% of patients. Early identification of those at higher risk could help inform optimal management. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies to explore factors associated with persistent pain among women who have undergone surgery for breast cancer. We found that development of persistent pain after breast cancer surgery was associated with younger age, radiotherapy, axillary lymph node dissection, greater acute postoperative pain and preoperative pain. Axillary lymph node dissection increases the absolute risk of persistent pain by 21%, and provides the only high yield target for a modifiable risk factor to prevent the development of persistent pain after breast cancer surgery.
Author Interviews, Emergency Care, Neurological Disorders, NYU, Pain Research / 30.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_15303" align="alignleft" width="159"]Dr. Mia T. Minen, MD, MPH Director, Headache Services at NYU Langone Medical Center Assistant professor, Department of Neurology Dr. Mia T. Minen[/caption] Mia Minen, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Neurology NYU Langone Medical Center MedicalResearch.com Editor’s note: The American Headache Society has issued new guidelines on “The Management of Adults With Acute Migraine in the Emergency Department” (1,2) Dr. Minen, Director of Headache Services at NYU Langone Medical Center, discusses these new guidelines below. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for these new guidelines? How common/severe is the issue of migraine or headache presentation to the ER? Dr. Minen: These guidelines were needed because previous research shows that there are about 1.2. million visits to the emergency department (ED) each year for migraine, and over 25 different medications are sometimes used for treatment. Many of these medications don’t have evidence-based data to back their usage, and opioids are especially likely to be prescribed in between 60 and 70 percent of these cases, despite their lack of efficacy and risks. The American Headache Society convened an expert panel to review the existing evidence on all the medications used to treat migraines in the ED, and we developed these new treatment guidelines.
Author Interviews, BMJ, Pain Research / 21.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_25344" align="alignleft" width="142"]Dr Alan Fayaz MA MBBS MRCP FRCA FFPMRCA Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Dr. Alan Fayaz[/caption] Dr Alan Fayaz MA MBBS MRCP FRCA FFPMRCA Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Fayaz: Despite fairly well established negative consequences of chronic pain (social, psychological, biological) very little is known about the burden of chronic pain in the United Kingdom. For example healthcare costs relating to chronic pain in the USA outstrip those of Cancer and Cardiovascular disease, and yet the profile of chronic pain (as disease in its own right) is not nearly as well established as either of those conditions. Surprisingly, prior to our study, there was little consensus regarding the prevalence of chronic pain in the UK. The purpose of our review was to synthesise existing data on the prevalence of various chronic pain phenotypes, in the United Kingdom, in order to produce accurate and contemporary national estimates.
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Pain Research / 13.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_24979" align="alignleft" width="142"]Dr. Gretchen Tietjen MD Professor and Chair of Neurology Director of UTMC Headache Treatment and Research Program Director of the UTMC Stroke Program Dr. Gretchen Tietjen[/caption] Dr. Gretchen Tietjen MD Professor and Chair of Neurology Director of UTMC Headache Treatment and Research Program Director of the UTMC Stroke Program MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Tietjen : C-reactive protein (CRP) is a well-established biomarker of inflammation. Elevated levels of CRP predict future cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke. Evidence linking higher CRP levels with migraine is limited and results from large population-based studies are conflicting. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data for children and adolescents linked elevated CRP to headache, particularly in girls, and the Women’s Health Study showed an association of CRP with migraine in women over 45 years of age. In the Reykjavik study, CRP levels in persons with migraine were similar to levels in those without migraine. The aim of our study was to examine the relationship of CRP and migraine in a large population-based sample of over 9,000 young adults (24 to 32 years old) from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health).
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Neurological Disorders, Pain Research / 07.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_25001" align="alignleft" width="150"]Dr Vincent Chung Assistant Professor, Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care Associate Director (Education), Hong Kong Institute of Integrative Medicine Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner The Chinese University of Hong Kong Dr. Vincent Chung[/caption] Dr Vincent Chung Assistant Professor, Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care Associate Director (Education), Hong Kong Institute of Integrative Medicine Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner The Chinese University of Hong Kong MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Primary carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common forms of peripheral entrapment neuropathy. It is a major cause of disability on the upper extremity incurring considerable limitation on daily activities among patients. Currently, there is no consensus on appropriate treatment for patients with chronic (≥6 months) mild to moderate symptoms [Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation. 2014;95(12):2253-63]. Electroacupuncture is a common technique for managing pain and neuropathy in Chinese medicine. Current CTS treatment guidelines from the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) made no specific recommendations for or against electroacupuncture.
Anesthesiology, Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Opiods, Pain Research / 04.06.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Sarah Saxena Université Libre de Bruxelles MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Saxena: Opioids are well known analgesics, but like every drug, they do not come without side-effects. Recently, certain studies have been published about an opioid-free approach in bariatric patients. An opioid free approach is possible combining ketamine, lidocaine and clonidine. We studied this type of approach in breast cancer patients and looked at several factors such as patient comfort pain quality after an opioid free approach vs after an opioid approach. The study showed patients requiring less analgesics after an opioid free approach.
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Pain Research, Psychological Science / 26.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_24699" align="alignleft" width="200"]Robert W. Levenson, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Psychology Director, Institute of Personality and Social Research (IPSR) University of California Berkeley, CA Dr. Robert Levenson[/caption] Robert W. Levenson, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Psychology Director, Institute of Personality and Social Research (IPSR) University of California Berkeley, CA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Levenson: This study comes from a 20-year longitudinal study of Bay Area married couples that we began in the late 1980s. The main purpose of the study was to understand the emotional qualities of successful marriages. Couples came to our laboratory every five years so that we could get a snapshot of the way they interacted with each. We also measured their psychological and physical health. This new paper connects the emotional behaviors we observed when couples discussed a problem in their marriage at the start of the study with the kinds of illnesses they developed over the ensuing decades.
Author Interviews, Opiods, Pain Research / 11.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_24269" align="alignleft" width="133"]Richard M. Mangano, PhD Chief Scientific Officer at Relmada Therapeutics Dr. Richard Mangano[/caption] Richard M. Mangano, PhD Chief Scientific Officer at Relmada Therapeutics Dr. Mangano has extensive experience leading global R&D programs in both large and small pharmaceutical companies including positions in discovery and clinical research at Hoffmann-La Roche, Lederle Laboratories, Wyeth Research and Adolor Corporation. He served as acting Therapeutic Area Director for Neuroscience at Wyeth before joining Adolor as Vice President of Clinical Research and Development. Dr. Mangano’s expertise includes multiple IND/CTC submissions and NDA/MAA approvals in psychiatry, neurology and gastrointestinal therapeutic areas. Dr. Mangano is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the Drexel University School of Medicine. He lectures in the Drug Discovery and Development Program and in the Psychiatry Department’s Resident Training Program.  He has authored 30 peer reviewed publications and over 120 abstracts and presentations. Dr. Mangano holds a B.S degree in Chemistry from Iona College and a PhD degree in Biochemistry from Fordham University. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, he was a research faculty member of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Institute at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Mangano discusses the opioid addiction and the development of abuse-resistant medications. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for the development of abuse-resistant medications? How extensive is the problem of opioid addiction? Dr. Mangano: Recognizing the growing incidence of opioid abuse, misuse, and overdose in the United States, pharmaceutical companies, with the guidance of the FDA, are developing products that can mitigate abuse, while recognizing the importance of maintaining the availability of opioid analgesics for the millions of patients in this country who suffer from pain. Approximately two million people in the U.S. are addicted to opioids. The market for products that treat opioid dependence has grown significantly due to the rapidly escalating problem of prescription opioid misuse and abuse, a recent resurgence of heroin use, and the growing number of physicians treating opioid dependence. One of our product candidates, REL-1028 (BuTab), is a proprietary formulation of buprenorphine designed to treat both opioid addiction and moderate to severe chronic pain. Although there is the potential for addiction to buprenorphine, the risk is lower because it is a “partial agonist” of the mu opioid receptor compared with “full agonist” opioids like heroin, morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. As a result, products containing buprenorphine, such as BuTab, should have reduced risk of abuse and physical dependence and would be controlled in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (as opposed to the more restrictive Schedule II). We are also considering a formulation that would include an opioid antagonist that would not interfere with analgesia when taken orally as prescribed but would block the action of buprenorphine if it were to be inhaled or injected.
Author Interviews, Pain Research, Psychological Science / 11.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_24249" align="alignleft" width="150"]Dominik Mischkowski, co-author of the study Former Ph.D. student at Ohio State Now at the National Institutes of Health Dr. Dominik Mischkowski[/caption] Dominik Mischkowski, co-author of the study Former Ph.D. student at Ohio State Now at the National Institutes of Health MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mischkowski: We tested in two double blind experiments whether the popular physical painkiller acetaminophen reduces empathy for the pain of other people. In the first experiment (N=80), participants completed measures of empathy (i.e., perceived pain and personal distress) while reading hypothetical about the physical and social mishaps of other people. We found that acetaminophen reduced empathy for pain in these scenarios. In Study 2 (N=114), we replicated and extending these findings, showing that acetaminophen also decreased empathy (i.e., perceived pain, personal distress, and empathic concern) for another study participant experiencing ostracism or painful noise blasts. Furthermore, noise unpleasantness accounted for the effect of acetaminophen on empathy for noise pain.
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, MD Anderson, Pain Research / 05.05.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_24078" align="alignleft" width="114"]Hui-Lin Pan, MD, PhD Helen T. Hawkins Distinguished Professor  and Deputy Division Head for Research Division of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Unit 110 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX Dr. Hui-Lin Pan[/caption] Hui-Lin Pan, MD, PhD Helen T. Hawkins Distinguished Professor and Deputy Division Head for Research Division of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Unit 110 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Hui-Lin Pan: Chronic nerve pain caused by damage to the peripheral nerve is a debilitating health problem and remains very difficult to treat. Sensory neurons in the spinal cord are normally inhibited by inhibitory neurotransmitters (GABA and glycine) to regulate transmission of painful information. A major feature of nerve injury-induced chronic pain is reduced spinal cord inhibition, resulting from diminished activity of a chloride transporter called KCC2. In this study, we investigated whether increasing KCC2 expression at the spinal level using a lentiviral vector can restore KCC2 activity, thereby reducing chronic nerve pain.
Author Interviews, NEJM, Pain Research, Surgical Research / 14.04.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_23431" align="alignleft" width="138"]Zoher Ghogawala MD FACS Department of Neurosurgery Lahey Hospital and Medical Center Burlington, MA 01805 Dr. Zoher Ghogawala[/caption] Zoher Ghogawala MD FACS Department of Neurosurgery Lahey Hospital and Medical Center Burlington, MA 01805 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Ghogawala: There is enormous practice variation around the utilization of lumbar spinal fusion in the United States and across the world.  In the United States, lumbar spinal fusion utilization has increased to 465,000 hospital-based procedures in 2011 according to a report from the AHRQ (published in 2014).  Spinal fusion accounts now for the highest aggregate hospital cost (12.8 billion dollars in 2011) of any surgical procedure performed in US hospitals.  What is problematic is that there are no top tier studies that address the question of whether or not adding a lumbar spinal fusion when performing a simple decompression is necessary or helpful.  The question is whether we perform too many fusions in the United States. The SLIP study is the first class I study that demonstrates that the addition of a lumbar fusion when performing a lumbar laminectomy to decompress spinal nerves improves health-related quality of life for patients suffering from low back pain and sciatica from lumbar stenosis with spondylolisthesis - a very common cause of low back pain caused by nerve compression associated with one spinal bone being slightly out of alignment.  MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Dr. Ghogawala: 1)  Adding a lumbar fusion when performing a lumbar laminectomy results in superior health-related quality of life at 2,3, and 4 years after surgery. 2)  Patients with fusion obtained durable results but 14% required re-operation for problems adjacent to their fusion over the 4 year study period. 3)  Lumbar laminectomy alone provided good results for 70% of patients.  There was less blood loss and faster recovery for these patients.  On the other hand, the outcomes were less durable.  One in three patients who underwent a lumbar laminectomy alone required re-operation within 4 years because their back became unstable.  These patients underwent fusion and their health-related quality of life improved.
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pain Research, Surgical Research, University of Pittsburgh, Weight Research / 06.04.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_23148" align="alignleft" width="150"]Wendy King, PhD Associate Professor of Epidemiology Epidemiology Data Center, Room 105 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Dr. Wendy King[/caption] Wendy King, PhD Associate Professor of Epidemiology Epidemiology Data Center, Room 105 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15213 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. King: Severe obesity is associated with significant joint pain and impaired physical function, such as difficulty bending, lifting carrying and walking. Excess weight can lead to joint damage and accompanying pain, resulting in activity restriction and walking limitations. Obesity can also contribute to pain and physical limitations through factors such as impaired cardiorespiratory function, systematic inflammation, reduced flexibility, low strength per body mass, and depression.  Previous studies have reported significant improvements in mean values of bodily and joint specific pain, physical function, and walking capacity in the first 3-12 months following RYGB or LAGB. However, very few studies have examined the variability in response to surgery or reported on longer-term follow-up of these procedures. My colleagues and I followed 2,221 patients participating in the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery-2, a large NIH-funded prospective study of adults with severe obesity undergoing weight-loss surgery at one of 10 hospitals across the U.S. Through three years of follow-up, approximately 50 to 70 % of patients who underwent bariatric surgery reported clinically important improvements in bodily pain, physical function and usual walking speed. About three-quarters of the participants with symptoms indicative of osteoarthritis before surgery experienced improvements in knee and hip pain and function. In addition, over half of participants who had a mobility deficit prior to surgery did not post-surgery. Several baseline characteristics such as younger age, male sex, higher household income, lower body mass index, fewer depressive symptoms and no history of diabetes or venous edema with ulcerations, were associated with a higher chance of improvement in pain and physical function following surgery. In addition, pre- to post-surgery reductions in weight and depressive symptoms, and remission of diabetes and venous edema with ulcerations were associated with pre- to post-surgery improvements. Thus, our findings reinforce results from shorter-term studies by addressing the durability or response and expand our understanding of the variability in response, and what factors are related to chance of improvement.
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Opiods, Pain Research / 04.04.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_23135" align="alignleft" width="130"]Shawn Bugden B.Sc. (Pharm), M.Sc., Pharm.D. Associate Professor College of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 0T5 Dr. Bugden[/caption] Shawn Bugden B.Sc. (Pharm), M.Sc., Pharm.D. Associate Professor College of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bugden: Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine.  While there has been a great deal of attention to fentanyl deaths associated with substance abuse, our study focused on the safety of fentanyl use in standard medical practice.   Fentanyl is most commonly prescribed as a transdermal (skin) patch that delivers the medication over 3 days. The product monograph and numerous safety warnings (FDA, Health Canada…) make it clear that fentanyl patches should not be used unless the patient has had considerable previous opioid exposure (more than 60mg morphine per day for more than 1 week).  Failure to heed these warnings may result in opioid overdose, respiratory depression and death. This study examined over 11 000 first prescriptions for fentanyl patches over a 12-year period to determine if patients had received adequate exposure to opioids.  Overall 74.1% of first prescriptions were filled by patients who had not received adequate prior opioid exposure. An improvement was seen over the study period but even at the end of the study, 50% of prescriptions would be classed as unsafe.  More than a quarter (26.3%) of fentanyl prescriptions were given to patients who were completely opioid naïve and had no exposure to opioids of any kind in the previous 60 days.  Older adults, who may be more sensitive to the effects of fentanyl overdose, were more likely to receive unsafe prescriptions than younger adults.
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA, Pain Research / 27.03.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_22729" align="alignleft" width="142"]Dr. Daniel C. Cherkin PhD Senior Investigator Group Health Research Institute Seattle, WA Dr. Daniel Cherkin[/caption] Dr. Daniel C. Cherkin PhD Senior Investigator Group Health Research Institute Seattle, WA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Cherkin: Chronic low back pain is a widespread, costly, and potentially disabling problem. It’s the most common cause of pain of any kind. It affects eight in 10 Americans at some point in their lives. In recent years, the United States has been spending more on back pain treatments—but unfortunately with worse results in how much pain bothers people and interferes with their lives. Group Health is addressing the problem in several ways, including this innovative research. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Dr. Cherkin: In a randomized controlled trial involving more than 300 patients at Group Health, we found that training in a kind of mindfulness meditation—mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)—led to meaningful improvements in functioning and chronic low back pain at six months and one year. MBSR, which is becoming increasingly popular and available in the United States, involves training in observing, acknowledging, and accepting thoughts and feelings including pain. The training also includes some easy yoga poses to help participants become more aware of their bodies. Results with  mindfulness-based stress reduction were significantly better than with usual care (whatever patients would be doing for their back pain if they weren’t in the study, including medications and physical therapy—but not mindfulness meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy). And results with  mindfulness-based stress reduction were very similar to those with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT includes education about chronic pain, relationships between thoughts and emotional and physical reactions, instruction and practice in changing dysfunctional thoughts, setting and working towards behavioral goals, relaxation skills, activity pacing, and pain coping strategies. Prior studies had already proven that CBT helped adults of various ages with back pain.
Author Interviews, Pain Research, Stanford / 11.03.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_22554" align="alignleft" width="200"]Eric Sun, MD/PhD Instructor Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine Stanford University Dr. Eric Sun[/caption] Eric Sun, MD/PhD Instructor Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine Stanford University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  Dr. Sun: Epidural steroid injections are frequently used to treat chronic low back pain.  While previous studies have shown they are effective at improving symptoms, whether they reduce spending is unknown.  These concerns are particularly salient because insurers are worried that epidural steroid injections are being overused. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Dr. Sun: Overall, we find that epidural steroid injections were associated with decreases in spending ranging from five to fifteen percent, depending on the specific indication.  These differences were largely driven by decreases in outpatient spending (e.g., spending on outpatient physician visits).
Author Interviews, Lancet, Neurological Disorders, Pain Research / 07.03.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nadine Attal, MD PhD Professeur associée de l'UVSQ INSERM U 987 et CETD CHU Ambroise Paré 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Attal: The background for this study is based on the findings of experimental studies in animals and healthy subjects indicating that botulinum toxin type A  (BTX-A) may have analgesic activity independent of its effect on muscle tone. BTX-A has been reported to have analgesic effects against peripheral neuropathic pain in prior trials, but the quality of the evidence was generally low, as it was derived mostly from small pilot studies and no study has evaluated the relevance of repeated administrations for the treatment of NP. Furthermore, the clinical profiles of the patients responding to BTX-A have not been fully characterized. MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Attal: They should take away that two repeated subcutaneous administrations of botulinum toxin type A are effective in peripheral  neuropathic pain but mostly in patients with allodynia and/or limited thermal deficits. BTX-A also appears to be particularly effective on paroxysmal pain (ie electric shock like pain). Finally, the efficacy of a second administration of BTX-A is enhanced over the first injection.
Author Interviews, OBGYNE, Pain Research / 04.03.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_22355" align="alignleft" width="120"]Matthew S. Robbins, MD, FAHS Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine Chief of Neurology, Jack D. Weiler Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center Director of Inpatient Services, Montefiore Headache Center Associate Program Director, Neurology Residency Dr. Matthew Robbins[/caption] Matthew S. Robbins, MD, FAHS Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine Chief of Neurology, Jack D. Weiler Hospital Montefiore Medical Center Director of Inpatient Services, Montefiore Headache Center Associate Program Director, Neurology Residency MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Robbins: It is now well-established that having a history of migraine increases the risk of having vascular and obstetrical complications for pregnant women.  What is not known is if having active migraine during pregnancy would increase complications later on in that very same pregnancy.  Having severe migraine attacks during pregnancy may indicate particularly severe and active disease.  We evaluated pregnant women who presented to the hospital setting with acute, severe migraine attacks, and then reviewed their records for what happened during the same pregnancy when they delivered.  We found that compared to local and national rates, pregnant women with severe migraine attacks presenting to the hospital have increased rates of preeclampsia, preterm delivery, and low birthweight.  This risk was particularly elevated in pregnant women age 35 years or older.
Author Interviews, Pain Research, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 24.02.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_21957" align="alignleft" width="178"]Adam T. Hirsh PhD Assistant Professor, Psychology Indiana University Indianapolis, IN Dr. Adam T. Hirsh[/caption] Adam T. Hirsh PhD Assistant Professor, Psychology Indiana University Indianapolis, IN  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hirsh: Pain is highly prevalent and is a major cause of disability. How patients cope with pain affects how much pain they feel and how much that pain interferes with their lives. Compared to White individuals, Black individuals experience greater pain across a number of clinical conditions, as well as in response to experimentally-delivered stimuli. These race differences may be due to differences in pain-related coping. We conducted a meta-analysis of clinical and experimental studies (including 2,719 Black and 3,770 White adults) to quantify race differences in the overall use of pain coping strategies as well as specific coping strategies. The results indicated that, compared to White individuals, Black individuals used pain coping strategies more frequently overall. In particular, Black individuals more frequently used strategies that involved praying and catastrophizing, whereas White individuals more frequently used strategies that involved task persistence. These results suggest that Black individuals use coping strategies more frequently, specifically strategies associated with poorer pain outcomes.
Author Interviews, Depression, Opiods, Pain Research / 19.02.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr-Jeffrey-ScherrerJeffrey F. Scherrer, PhD Associate Professor Research Director Department of Family and Community Medicine Saint Louis University School of Medicine St. Louis, MO 63104  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Scherrer: We initiated a series of studies on chronic opioid use and risk of depression about 3 years ago and obtained an NIH R21 to study prescription opioid use and risk of new onset depression, depression recurrence and transition to treatment resistant depression.  The rationale comes partly from clinical observations of the research team (I am not a clinician, just a epidemiologist).  We also observed the large field demonstrating patients with depression are more likely to get opioids for pain, take them longer and develop abuse.  We wanted to switch the direction of effect to determine if the reverse exists.  After publishing two papers demonstrating longer use of opioid was associated with increasing risk of depression, our next step was to look at recurrence among patients with a recent history of depression. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Scherrer: Our main recommendation is clinicians should repeatedly screen patients for depression.  While screening at time of starting opioids is common, repeated screening is worth consideration.  Patients with depression who may experience temporary euphoria should not expect opioids to cure depression and they may increase risk for worsening mood and or recurrence after long term use.