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Andrew Moon, MD, MPH: Opioid Alternatives for Liver Disease Patients

Dr. Moon says new strategies must be implemented to help NAFLD patients deal with pain.

Opioid use is high in patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

According to data released as part of the TARGET-NASH study, approximately 18% of NAFLD patients are using opioids to deal with the pain caused by their condition.

However, researchers are hoping that number can ultimately reduce and alternatives are found to help patients handle pain, while reducing the dependency on the addictive medications.

With September being Pain Awareness Month, Andrew Moon, MD, MPH, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, explained in an interview with HCPLive® why it is important for doctors to begin to find ways to avoid prescribing opioids for NAFLD patients.

Moon explained that there are likely to be situations where short-term opioid use is appropriate, but for patients dealing with long-term or chronic pain it is best to find an alternative.

Moon also spoke in favor of a multidisciplinary approach to NAFLD, including engagement from a primary care provider, endocrinologist, psychiatrists, and a physical therapists, which could help address pain using non-pharmacological techniques.

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.