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A matched case-control study to assess the association between non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use and thrombotic microangiopathy

Liu AR, Hildebrand AM, Dixon S, Sontrop JM, Clark WF, Lazo-Langner A, Nash D, Garg AX. PLoS One. 2018; 13(8): e0202801. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


Several case reports suggest that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use is associated with development of thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA). We conducted a matched population-based case-control study using linked administrative healthcare data in Ontario, Canada to assess the relationship between TMA hospitalization and recent exposure to prescription NSAIDs versus acetaminophen (acetaminophen was chosen as the referent drug because it has no known association with TMA). Cases and controls were drawn from a source population of adults who filled a prescription for either NSAIDs or acetaminophen between 1991 and 2015 (restricted to adults with prescription drug benefits [n = 3.6 million]). We identified 44 eligible cases with a hospital admission for incident TMA and a recent prescription for NSAIDs or acetaminophen. We successfully matched 38 cases (1:4) to 152 controls without TMA on demographics, risk factors for TMA, and indications for NSAID use. Cases and controls were similar with respect to age (71 years) and sex (63% women); however, on average, cases had more comorbidities than controls (12 vs. 14; p<0.05) and more primary care visits in the year before the index date (19 vs. 12; p<0.05). Cases were significantly less likely than controls to have received a recent prescription for NSAIDs (19/38 [50%] vs. 115/152 [76%], respectively; adjusted odds ratio 0.37, 95% confidence interval: 0.16 to 0.84). Results were similar in several sensitivity analyses. Overall, the results of this study do not support a harmful association between NSAID use and the development of TMA.

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