Combination Opioids and Benzodiazepines Raises Risk of Overdose

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Eric C Sun MD PhD, assistant professor Department of Anesthesiology Perioperative and Pain Medicine Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA

Dr. Eric Sun

Eric C Sun MD PhD, assistant professor
Department of Anesthesiology
Perioperative and Pain Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There have been large increases in opioid-related adverse events over the past decade. The goal of our study was to examine the extent to which these increases may have been driven by combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines, a combination that is known to be potentially risky. Overall, we found that the combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines nearly doubled (80% increase) between 2001 and 2013, and that opioid users who also used benzodiazepines were at a higher risk of an opioid-related adverse event. Indeed, our results suggest eliminating the combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines could have reduced the population risk of an opioid-related adverse event by 15%.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: For physicians, I think the key point is to carefully consider the risk-benefit tradeoff when prescribing opioids to a patient already using benzodiazepines (or vice versa). For patients, the main message is that, if you are being prescribed both drugs, you should make sure that your physician is aware of this fact.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: I think it would be helpful to understand the extent to which health system reforms could monitor and reduce the extent to which patients are using both drugs together. For example, currently, knowledge of a patient’s prescriptions is fairly fragmented, so unless a patient tells a physician that he is currently using an opioid, a benzodiazepine, or both, it can be difficult for the physician to find out otherwise.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: No disclosures other than that I was funded by a Mentored Research Training Grant from the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Association between concurrent use of prescription opioids and benzodiazepines and overdose: retrospective analysis
BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j760 (Published 14 March 2017)Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j760
Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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