Most Opioid Overdose Patients Can Be Discharged After Brief ER Visit

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Frank Scheuermeyer MD MHSc Clinical Associate Professor Department of Emergency Medicine St Paul’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia

Dr. Scheuermeyer

Frank Scheuermeyer MD MHSc
Clinical Associate Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
St Paul’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia 

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

Response: Mortality from the opioid epidemic is dramatically increasing and a main culprit appears to be illicit fentanyl. Current research states that patients with presumed fentanyl overdoses are at high risk of deterioration and death, and require prolonged emergency department stays or hospital admission to ensure a safe outcome.

Our inner-city hospital adopted a protocol initially developed for patients with heroin overdose, modified it to account for the greater potency of fentanyl, and studied 1009 consecutive patients who arrived with an overdose.

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LUCEMYRA, First Drug for Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms, Receives FDA Recommendation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
http://usworldmeds.com/
Mark Pirner, MD, PhD
Senior Medical Director
US WorldMeds  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain how lofexidine works?

Response: LUCEMYRA (lofexidine) was studied in two phase 3 pivotal randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies, and a phase 3 open-label study. Clinical pharmacology studies included evaluation of drug-drug interaction studies that demonstrated lofexidine can be safely administered concomitantly with methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone.

LUCEMYRA is an alpha 2 adrenergic receptor agonist that reduces the surge of norepinephrine signaling in the brain which results from abrupt opioid withdrawal, and thereby reduces the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms.  Continue reading

Less Restrictive Marijuana Laws Linked To Reduced Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Marijuana plant

Hefei Wen, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Management & Policy
University of Kentucky College of Public Health 

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

Response: Marijuana is one of the potential, non-opioid alternatives that can relieve pain at a relatively lower risk of addiction and virtually no risk of overdose. Medical and adult-use marijuana laws, has made marijuana available to more Americans. Yet no study to date has focused on the effect of medical and adult-use marijuana laws on opioid prescribing in particular.

Our study provides some of the first empirical evidence that the implementation of medical and adult-use marijuana laws between 2011 and 2016 was associated with lower opioid prescribing rates and spending among Medicaid enrollees.   Continue reading

States with Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Had Bigger Drop in Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with

“Cannabis sativa” by Manuel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

David Bradford, Ph.D.
Busbee Chair in Public Policy
Department of Public Administration and Policy
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602

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

Response: To give you some background, in 2016, part of our research team (Bradford and Bradford) published the first study to directly examine the impact that medical cannabis laws (MCLs) may be having on prescription use. We used yearly physician-level Medicare Part D data, looked at nearly all prescription drugs used to treat 9 broad categories of illness/diagnoses, and found substantial reductions in prescriptions. We published a follow-up study in 2017, this time using data from Medicaid Fee-for-Service.

Again, we found significant substitution away from prescription medications. In both of these studies, pain was included in the list of conditions for which cannabis may be used in patients, and in both studies, pain prescriptions fell. One of the unanswered questions from both of those studies, though, was what *type* of pain medications were being reduced.  From a public health standpoint, when we’re worried about opioid overdose, it matters whether the substitution away from pain medications is coming from substitutions away from things like NSAIDs or whether there is substitution away from opioids.

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1000% Increase In Number of Pennsylvania Babies Born Addicted to Opioids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

http://www.phc4.org/reports/researchbriefs/neonatal/17/

Joe Martin
Executive Director
PA Health Care Cost Containment Council
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, PA 17101

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

Response: Several years ago, our agency noted that while mortality data for opioid addition was being reported, it did not include hospitalizations where death did not occur.  We believed our agency could make a valuable contribution to the data by beginning to report that.  We began with adults hospitalized in PA for opioid addiction, and supplemented that over time with reporting about maternity cases and newborns. Today’s report covers babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

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Tamper-Resistant Oxycodone May Have Lead Users To Use Different Opioids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrea Schaffer PhD Research Fellow Centre for Big Data Research in Health UNSW Sydney NSW Australia

Dr. Schaffer

Andrea Schaffer PhD
Research Fellow
Centre for Big Data Research in Health
UNSW Sydney NSW Australia 

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

Response: Use and misuse of opioids has increased dramatically in Australia over the past 20 years. In 2014, Australia introduced tamper-resistant controlled-release (CR) oxycodone, which forms a viscous gel when crushed, and is designed to deter its injection or snorting. However, this formulation does not prevent dependence, and can still be misused orally. Tamper-resistant oxycodone CR was also introduced in the US (2010) and Canada (2012), resulting in reductions in oxycodone CR use. However, no large population-level studies have looked at switching behaviour in individuals using oxycodone CR, either in Australia or abroad.

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Physicians Who Receive Pharmaceutical Company Payments More Likely To Prescribe Opioids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Vishal Bala Senior Quantitative Data Analyst CareDash

Vishal Bala

Vishal Bala
Senior Quantitative Data Analyst
CareDash

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

Response: Prior research into physicians and their relationships with the pharmaceutical industry has typically retained a narrow scope, focusing on how payments may be associated with prescription habits (sometimes limited to specific regions) for specific categories of drugs. For example, Modi et al. 2017 and Bandari et al. 2017 explored these connections in the context of some urologic drugs specifically.

Research conducted by ProPublica in 2016 studied the connection between industry payments and physician prescriptions across some of the largest medical specialties, but was only able to look at “brand-name” vs. “generic” categories and were limited by overlapping timeframes for payments and prescriptions.

CareDash took this analysis further by using Open Payments and Medicare Part D data to investigate the relationship between payments made by individual companies for specific drugs and the prescribing habits of the recipient physicians for those drugs.

CareDash’s main findings are that healthcare providers who received payments for a drug from a pharmaceutical company are 5 times more likely to be high prescribers for that drug than those physicians who did not receive a payment. Physicians are 5.3 times more likely to prescribe a drug than their peers after they have received a payment for that drug from the manufacturer. When physicians already prescribe a drug significantly more often than their peers, they are 5.6 times more likely to later receive payment for that drug from the drug’s manufacturer. Looking at the opioid drug class specifically, CareDash found that physicians receiving payment on behalf of an opioid were 14.5 times more likely to prescribe that opioid over alternatives.

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Prescription Opioids Peaked in 2011 and Have Declined Rapidly Since

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brian J. Piper, PhD, MS Assistant Professor of Neuroscience Department of Basic Sciences, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Scranton PA 18509

Dr. Brian Piper

Brian J. Piper, PhD, MS
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Department of Basic Sciences,
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine,
Scranton PA 18509 

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

Response: The US is experiencing an opioid crisis. There were 63,800 drug overdose deaths in 2016 which is three-fold higher than in 1999. Drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased 27-fold. Overdoses may even have contributed to decreases in the US lifespan. Emergency Room visits involving opioids have also shown recent increases, particularly in the Southwest and Western US. The US accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population but consumed over two-thirds (69.1%) of the world’s supply of six opioids (fentanyl: 30.1%, methadone: 48.1%, morphine: 51.2%, hydromorphone: 53.0%, oxycodone: 73.1% and hydrocodone: 99.7%) in 2014.

The goal of this study was to examine changes in medical use of ten opioids within the United States, and US Territories, from 2006 to 2016 as reported to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS). Prior estimates of the Morphine Mg Equivalent (MME), per person in the US (640), although much higher than most other developed countries, may be an underestimate because of a federal regulation (42 CFR Part 2) that prevents reporting methadone from narcotic treatment programs.

We discovered that prescription opioid use peaked in 2011 (389.5 metric ton MMEs) and has been rapidly declining (346.5 in 2016). Relative to 2011, there were decreases in hydrocodone (–28.4%); oxymorphone (–28.0%); fentanyl (–21.4%); morphine (–18.9%); oxycodone (–13.8%); and meperidine (–58.0%). However, there was a pronounced increase in buprenorphine (75.2%). Similar changes were observed from 2015 to 2016 with a statistically significant reduction in all opioids except buprenorphine which was increased. There were substantial geographical variations in rates with a seven fold difference between the highest Morphine Milligram Equivalents in 2016 (Rhode Island = 2,624 mg/person) relative to Puerto Rico (351 mg/person).

Two drugs used in treating an opioid use disorder (methadone and buprenorphine) accounted for over-half (52%) of the total MME in 2016.   Continue reading

Alcohol Accelerates Aging of Brain’s Frontal Cortex

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
alcohol-cdc-image
Edith V. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, CA 94305-5723 

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

Response: Alcohol misuse is a major public health problem worldwide with profound health consequences on the body, brain, and function. Our research group has conducted naturalistic yet controlled studies of alcohol dependence for several decades to further our understanding of when and how alcohol misuse affects specific parts of the brain.  In addition, we wanted to know how alcohol misuse interacts with the typical changes in the brain as we grow older.  The studies are controlled in that we recruit healthy, non-alcohol dependence men and women from the community to undergo the same screening and neuroimaging procedures as our alcoholic recruits.  The studies are quantitative because we use neuroimaging methods (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) that enable us to measure specific regions of brain structural volumes.  Consistent collection of such data over the years positioned us to ask whether age and alcohol dependence interact to produce regional brain volume loss beyond the loss that occurs in normal aging.

A number of cross-sectional studies pointed to the likelihood that the effects of alcohol dependence on brain structure would be exacerbated by normal aging, which we do know from longitudinal neuroimaging studies results in shrinkage of cortical gray matter volume and thinning of the cortex. What was particularly striking about our longitudinal study of men and women with alcohol dependence was the acceleration of the aging of brain structure that was especially prominent in the frontal cortex.  Critically, even those who initiated dependent drinking at an older age showed accelerated loss.

Because our study sample was large enough, we could also test whether our findings were attributable to conditions that commonly co-occur with alcohol dependence, namely, illicit drug use and hepatitis C.  Although both drug use and hepatitis C infection may have exacerbated brain volume loss, these factors did not fully account for the alcoholism-aging interaction we identified.

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Mortality From Overdose, Alcohol and Firearms Varies Regionally

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Laura Dwyer-Lindgren PhD Assistant Professor at IHME Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation 

Dr. Dwyer-Lindgren

Dr. Laura Dwyer-Lindgren PhD
Assistant Professor at IHME
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation 

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

 Response: This study in the latest in a series of studies IHME has conducted on health and disease on the county level in the United States. We analyzed data provided by the National Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and other sources. Main findings include:

  • Nearly 550,000 deaths were attributed to drug use over the 35 years. Nationally, the age-standardized death date increased 238% between 1980 and 2000, and 112% between 2000 and 2014. The death rate from drug use disorders increased in every county, but some counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and eastern Oklahoma has increases exceeding 5000%.
  • There were more than a quarter million deaths in the U.S. due to alcohol use; Western counties generally has higher levels than those in other parts of area of the nation, with especially high death rates in Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Alaska.
  • Neatly 1.3 million suicides were recorded, with especially high rates in Alaska, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Wyoming and one county in Maryland. While the national death rate due to suicide decreased between 1980 and 2014, there was an increase in the death rate due to suicide in most counties.
  • More than three quarters of a million deaths by homicide occurred in the US between 1980 and 2015. Nationally, the age-standardized death rate due to homicide decreased by about 35% between 1980 and 2000, and by nearly 16% between 2000 and 2014. Counties with the largest decreases were found in Virginia, Florida, Texas, California and New York. 

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