Opioids to Treat Hemophilia Heavily Underreported

Are opioids an effective and frequently-prescribed treatment for hemophilia? Actually, according to Hemophilia News Today, opioids are prescribed at a much higher rate than reported. This suggests that doctors and treatment centers may need to come up with an alternative way to help patients manage pain. Find their full findings in Haemophilia.


Hemophilia is a rare inherited bleeding disorder. It is caused by a lack of blood-clotting proteins. There are two main types: A (in which people lack clotting factor VIII) and B (in which people lack clotting factor IX). Symptoms include spontaneous bleeding, bruising, joint pain and swelling, excessive and prolonged bleeding, fatigue, vomiting, neck pain, and doubled vision. Learn more about hemophilia.


Many patients with hemophilia experience pain as a symptom of their condition. Researchers wanted to understand how opioid use intersected with pain management in these patients. This is especially crucial as opioid misuse correlates with addiction; in fact, the United States is even believed to be in an “opioid crisis” right now.

First, researchers examined medical records sourced from 318 patients over a 3.5 year period. 183 patients (57.5%) were adults and 135 patients (42.5%) were children.

About 103 adult patients (56%) and 28 children (21%) were prescribed opioids for pain management. Researchers compared these findings to the ATHNdataset, in which patients with bleeding disorders can contribute medical data. The findings from this study were extremely high compared to the number of ATHNdataset patients who reported prescription opioids (6%).

Chronic vs. Acute Pain

Doctors frequently prescribed the following opioids to treat chronic pain. In the patients taking these opioids, 74% had severe hemophilia:

  • Oxycodone, prescribed to 37% of patients.
  • Methadone, prescribed to 13% of patients.
  • Hydrocodone, prescribed to 13% of patients.
  • Codeine, prescribed to 11% of patients.
  • Morphine, prescribed to 11% of patients.

For patients with acute pain, of which 56% had severe hemophilia, the prescriptions were as followed:

  • Oxycodone, prescribed to 62% of patients.
  • Hydrocodone, prescribed to 17% of patients.
  • Codeine, prescribed to 17% of patients.

Opioid Prescribers for Hemophilia

Most opioid prescriptions were given by doctors outside of hemophilia treatment centers. Hemophilia treatment centers only prescribed opioids to 23% of pediatric patients and 34% of adult patients.

Moving forward, additional treatment options are needed. Doctors should focus on non-opioid pain management, as well as pain management techniques not requiring medication.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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