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Oral glucocorticoids 'double risk of pancreatitis'

Patients taking oral glucocorticoids have an increased risk of developing acute pancreatitis, say researchers.

The study

Swedish researchers used databases in Sweden to identify 6,161 patients with a first episode of acute pancreatitis during the three-year study period, who were then matched with 61,637 controls at risk of developing acute pancreatitis. Prescription information was then obtained to determine current, former and recent users of oral glucocorticoids. Current users were defined as patients who filled their prescription within 30 days, between 31 and 180 days, and after 180 days before the index date.

The findings

Current users of oral glucocorticoids were almost two times more likely to be diagnosed with acute pancreatitis compared with non-users. Adjustment for concomitant drugs reduced the risk to 53%, compared with non-users, but this remained significant. There was no risk present for recent and former users of oral glucocorticoids.

What does it mean for GPs?

The authors concluded that the results demonstrated an increased risk of pancreatitis with oral glucocorticoid use, advising that ‘patients, particularly those at increased risk of acute pancreatitis such as those with high alcohol consumption or gallstones, might benefit from being monitored closely during the first month of oral glucocorticoid use.’

JAMA Internal Medicine 2013, online 25 February

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