Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 26.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bradley D. Stein MD PhD Senior Physician Policy Researcher Pittsburgh Office Rand Corporation MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Increasing use of medication treatment for individuals with opioid use disorders, with medications like methadone and buprenorphine, is a critical piece of the nation’s response to the opioid crisis. Buprenorphine was approved by the FDA in 2002 for treatment of opioid use disorders, but there was little information about to what extent buprenrophine’s approval increased the number of Medicaid-enrollees who received medication treatment in the years following FDA approval nor to what extent receipt of such treatment was equitable across communities. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, University of Pittsburgh / 25.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Pittsburgh, PA 15261 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Prior research has found that taking opioids and benzodiazepines simultaneously increases the risk of overdose by 2 to 3 fold, when compared to opioid-use only. However, prior to our study, it was unclear how the risk of overdose changes over time with the concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, PLoS / 20.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Alcohol” by zeevveez is licensed under CC BY 2.0Andrew Kunzmann Research Fellow Queen's Universit Belfast MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: We decided to conduct this research because the messages about the health effects linked to light-moderate drinking are less consistent. Previous studies suggest that light-moderate drinking is linked to an increased risk of cancer but a lower risk of mortality than never drinking. The international guidelines around what constitutes drinking in moderation also differ, with UK guidelines now recommending intakes below 6 pints of beer or 175ml glasses of wine per week (equivalent to less than 1 per day) but other guidelines recommending intakes of 2 drinks or less per day. We wanted to see what the risk of getting either of these conditions (cancer or mortality) were to give a more comprehensive and less confusing message about the health effects of light-moderate drinking. This was part of a well-established collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast and the National Cancer Institute in the US. We used data from a cancer screening trial in the US that contained data on over 100,000 people from the US, who were free from cancer at the start of the study and who completed a questionnaire asking how much alcohol they consumed at different periods of their adult life. This was then linked to data over an average of 9 years after they completed the questionnaire to see which individuals developed cancer or died from any cause. We then assessed whether risk of cancer and mortality differed based on lifetime alcohol intakes after accounting for a number of other factors such as age, educational attainment, smoking and dietary intakes. (more…)
Addiction, Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Opiods / 19.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Marc R. Larochelle, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine Boston University School of Medicine Boston MD  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this study we examined more than 17,000 individuals who survived an opioid overdose in Massachusetts between 2012 and 2014. We were interested in identifying how many went on to receive one of the three FDA-approved medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), and whether or not they were associated with mortality. We found that only 3 in 10 received MOUD and that receipt of buprenorphine and methadone were associated with 40-60% reduction in all-cause and opioid-related mortality. We found no association between naltrexone and mortality though the confidence of this conclusion is limited by the small number who received naltrexone in this cohort. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emergency Care, Opiods / 16.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Herbie Duber, MD, MPH, FACEP Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine Adjunct Associate Professor Department of Global Health Adjunct Associate Professor Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation University of Washington MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Opioid use disorder (OUD) and opioid overdose deaths are a rapidly increasing public health crisis.  In this paper, we review and synthesize current evidence on the identification, management and transition of patients from the emergency department (ED) to the outpatient setting and present several key recommendations. For patients identified to haveOpioid use disorder, we recommend ED-initiated mediation-assisted therapy (MAT) with buprenorphine, an opioid agonist.  Current evidence suggests that it safe and effective, leading to improved patient outcomes.  At the same time, a coordinated care plan should be put into motion which combines MAT with a rapid transition to outpatient care, preferably within 72 hours of ED evaluation.  Where possible, a warm handoff is preferred, as it has been shown in other settings to improve follow-up.  Outpatient care should combine MAT, psychological interventions and social support/case management in order to maximize impact (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Mental Health Research / 15.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Cannabis sativa” by Manuel is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Leen Naji, BHSc, MD Family Medicine Resident McMaster University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Cannabis use has consistently been linked to suicide attempt in the general population, but little data exists linking the association between cannabis use and suicide attempt amongst patients with psychiatric disorders. This is important data as we know that patients with psychiatric disorders are both more likely to use cannabis and to attempt suicide. Therefore, our goal was to study the association between cannabis use and suicide attempt amongst patients with psychiatric disorders. Additionally, since we know that women are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders, are more likely to attempt suicide and are more likely to incur the deleterious consequences of drug use at lower doses, we sought to compare the association between cannabis use and suicide attempt in men and women amongst our study population. We conducted our analysis on a large sample of over 900 adults with psychiatric disorders (465 men, 444 women), of whom 112 men and 158 women had attempted suicide. The average age of our study sample was 40 years. We found that cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of suicide in patients with psychiatric disorders, though this association may vary when looking at specific subpopulations and/or amount of cannabis use. For instance, we found that heavier cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of suicide attempt amongst men with psychiatric disorders. Specifically, there was a 3% increased risk of suicide attempt for every day of cannabis use per month in men with psychiatric disorders. We also found that amongst those with psychiatric conditions, women, unemployed individuals and those with a mood disorder were at increased risk of suicide attempt.   (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco Research / 15.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: e-cigarette CDC imageDr Lynne Dawkins, PhD Associate Professor London South Bank University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Many people think that it’s the nicotine that’s harmful so they opt for using a low strength in their e-liquid. We know from tobacco smoking that when people switch to using a lower nicotine yield cigarette, they compensate in order to maintain a steady blood nicotine level by taking longer, harder drags and this can increase exposure to toxins in the smoke. We also know from some of our other work with vapers (e-cigarette users) that they tend to reduce the nicotine strength of their e-liquid over time. We therefore wanted to explore whether vapers also engage in this compensatory puffing and whether this has any effect on exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Mental Health Research / 13.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Scott J. Russo PhD Fishberg Dept. of Neuroscience Friedman Brain Institute, and Center for Affective Neuroscience Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: There is increasing evidence that aggressive behavior might share key features with addiction.  For example, aggressive mice develop positive associations with environmental cues associated with previous aggressive encounters (ie. they find aggression rewarding) and aggressive animals will work very hard to obtain access to a subordinate animal in order to attack them. Some of the same brain regions that are activated in response to addictive drugs, like cocaine and morphine, are also activated by aggressive experience.  Thus we hypothesized that there may be shared neurobiological mechanisms between addiction and aggression. Our study showed that there is accumulation of the addiction-related transcription factor, ΔFosB, in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region well know to regulate the rewarding and addictive properties of drugs of abuse. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews / 11.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor, Rita Z. Goldstein, PhD Department of Psychiatry (primary) and Department of Neuroscience, Friedman Brain Institute (secondary) Chief, Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Related Conditions (NARC) Research Program Anna Zilverstand PhD Assistant Professor, Psychiatry Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai The Leon and Norma Hess Center for Science and Medicine New York, NY 10029  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In comparison to previous reviews that often focused on investigating select brain circuits, such as the reward network, our review is the first to systematically discuss all brain networks implicated in human drug addiction. Based on more than 100 neuroimaging studies published since 2010, we found that six major brain networks showed altered brain function in individuals with addiction. These brain circuits are involved in a person’s ability to select their actions (executive network), in directing someone’s attention (salience network), in adaptive learning of new behaviors (memory network), in the automatization of behaviors (habit network), in self-reflection (self-directed network) and the valuation of different options (reward network). When individuals with addiction are confronted with pictures of drug taking, all of these networks become very highly engaged; however, when the same individuals are confronted with scenes depicting other people, their brains show a reduced reaction as compared to healthy individuals, indicating less involvement. Similarly, the brain of an addicted individual is less engaged when making decisions (that are not relevant to their drug taking) or when trying to inhibit impulsive actions. We further found that some impairments of brain functions, such as alterations underlying the difficulty to inhibit impulsive actions, seem to precede drug addiction, as we observe similar impairments in adolescents that later go on to abuse drugs. However, particularly the impairments in the executive network (involved in the ability to inhibit impulsive actions), the valuation network (which computes the value of an option) and the salience network (that directs attention towards events) seem to be getting worse with more severe drug use and also predict if someone is likely to relapse or not. The good news is that we also found that it is possible to (partially) recover and normalize brain function in these networks through treatment. Importantly, the widespread alterations of brain function were independent of what drug an individual was addicted to (marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, amongst others). (more…)
Addiction, Alcohol, Author Interviews, Opiods / 07.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Katie Witkiewitz PhD Professor, Department of Psychology University of New Mexico MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Response: The main findings from our study indicate that individuals with alcohol dependence who misused opioids (e.g., used without a prescription or not as prescribed) had a significantly higher likelihood of relapse to heavy drinking during alcohol treatment and were drinking more alcohol during and following alcohol treatment. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 06.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Randall C. Swaim, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist and Director Linda R. Stanley, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research Department of Psychology Colorado State University                           MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: American Indian adolescents consistently report the highest levels of substance use compared with other US racial/ethnic groups. The harm associated with these high rates of use include higher risk of developing a substance use disorder, more alcohol-related problems, including alcohol-attributable death, and other negative outcomes such as school failure. These findings point to the importance of continuing to monitor this group, particularly given changing trends in perceived harmfulness of illicit substances as new statutes alter access to medical and recreational use of cannabis. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods, Pain Research / 23.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Stuart Lustig, M.D., M.P.H National Medical Executive for Behavioral Health Cigna Dr. Lustig discusses Cigna’s efforts to curb the opioid epidemic. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for the Applying American Society of Addiction Medicine Performance Measures in Commercial Health Insurance and Services Data study? Response: In 2016 Cigna announced a collaboration with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to improve treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders and establish performance measures and best practices for addiction treatment. Mining anonymized data from Cigna’s administrative data, Brandeis University researchers have validated a new way to hone in on trouble spots where substance use disorder treatment for opioid, alcohol and other drug dependence is suboptimal, like the way police departments use computers to identify high crime areas in need of greater scrutiny and attention. The technique uses ASAM-defined performance measures to assess substance use disorder treatment patterns, giving researchers the ability to sort through administrative data and measure to the extent to which patients being treated for opioid or alcohol use disorder are receiving and using evidenced-based medications proven to be effective in improving outcomes and retention in treatment. It also measures whether those patients received support during substance withdrawal – a critical factor in the success of addiction treatment plans. The performance measures were first tested on the Veterans’ Health Administration in 2016 and now, on data from Cigna. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods / 22.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christopher J. Ruhm, PhD Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: I have been interested for some time in understanding the extent to which the rise in drug fatalities can explaining the rising mortality rates of midlife whites that have been experienced since the turn of the century. The primary findings are as follows:
  1. The rise in drug mortality is sufficiently large to explain the entire growth in mortality rates and years of potential life lost experienced by 22-56 year old non-Hispanic whites (NHW) from 1999-2015. This does not imply that there are not other sources of concern related to this decline in life expectancy but indicate a key role of drug deaths.
  2. The growth in drug deaths is particularly pronounced for males in their 20s and 30s, in contrast to some earlier research focusing on NHW in their 40s and 50s.
  3. Deaths involving illicit opioids are the primary driver for young NHW males, with more equal contributions of illicit and prescription opioids for some what older NHWs. These results also indicate that prior studies focusing on persons in their 40s and 50s may provide a misleading picture of the pattern of deaths for the group experiencing the greatest increases.
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Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pediatrics / 21.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Natalie Castellanos Ryan, PhD École de Psychoéducation Université de Montréal Outremont Canada  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Our study followed a group of boys living in low socioeconomic neighbourhoods in Montreal (N=1030) from early childhood to 28 years of age to investigate: 1) whether the age at which one starts to use cannabis across adolescence is associated with the risk of developing drug abuse by early adulthood, when one controls for  arrange of known risk factors for cannabis use and problems assessed across development (risk factors in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood); and 2) the developmental pathways from early risk factors to drug abuse problems. To examine these associations, the study collected  self-reported cannabis use information from these boys annually from ages 13 to 17 years and drug abuse symptoms at 28 years, as well as teacher, parent and child reported information on a number of environmental (family and friend) and child characteristics (e.g., impulsivity, delinquency, school performance) across childhood and adolescence. Alcohol and other drug use was also assessed across adolescence and early adulthood. (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Opiods, University of Pittsburgh / 21.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jason Kennedy, MS Research project manager Department of Critical Care Medicine University of Pittsburgh MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Most previous studies of opioid use in health care have focused on the outpatient setting. But opioids are often introduced during hospitalization. That’s something clinicians can control, so we looked at inpatient prescription of these drugs to identify targets that may reduce opioid use once patients are out of the hospital. We analyzed the medical records of 357,413 non-obstetrical adults hospitalized between 2010 and 2014 at 12 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) hospitals in southwestern Pennsylvania. The region is one of the areas of the country where opioid addiction is a major public health problem. We focused on the 192,240 patients who had not received an opioid in the year prior to their hospitalization – otherwise known as “opioid naïve” patients. Nearly half (48 percent) of these patients received an opioid while hospitalized.  After discharge, those patients receiving hospital opioids were more than twice as likely to report outpatient opioid use within 90-days (8.4 percent vs. 4.1 percent). Patients who receive an opioid for most of their hospital stay and patients who are still taking an opioid within 12 hours of being discharged from the hospital appear more likely to fill a prescription for opioids within 90 days of leaving the hospital.  (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, Pharmaceutical Companies / 14.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Big Lunch Extras Reading” by Big Lunch Extras is licensed under CC BY 2.0Scott E. Hadland, MD, MPH, MS Assistant Professor of Pediatrics | Boston University School of Medicine Boston Medical Center Director of Urban Health & Advocacy Track | Boston Combined Residency Program Boston, MA 02118 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Numerous pharmaceutical companies have received media attention for their role in promoting opioid prescribing through speaker programs and other marketing plans in which large-value payments are given to a small number of doctors to promote opioids. In our study, we sought to tell the other side of the story. We wanted to identify whether low-value marketing, including industry-sponsored meals, which are commonplace in the US, were associated with increased opioid prescribing. We found that 1 in 14 doctors received opioid marketing from pharmaceutical companies in 2014, and those that received marketing prescribed 9% more opioids the following year. With each additional meal a doctor received, he or she prescribed more and more opioids the following year. Our sample included 43% of the active physician workforce in the US, suggesting how widespread and far-reaching this effect might be. (more…)
Author Interviews, Opiods, Race/Ethnic Diversity, University of Michigan / 03.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Matthew A. Davis, MPH, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Systems, Populations and Leadership University of Michigan MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The premise for the study was based on prior work that demonstrated that the likelihood of being prescribed an opioid differs according to a patient’s race and ethnicity.  Collectively this work has shown that Non-Hispanic Whites are more likely to receive opioids than other groups for pain. We decided to look at trends in the prescribing of different pain medications over the last 16 years to see if we could detect any differences in prescribing patterns among racial and ethnic groups.  To do so we used national health data for a large sample of Americans who live with significant pain. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods, Pharmacology / 30.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Maria Sullivan, M.D., Ph.D Senior Medical Director of Clinical Research and Development Alkermes MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Extended release injectable naltrexone is approved for the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence after detoxification and when used with counseling. It is recommended that patients abstain from opioids for a minimum of seven to 10 days prior to induction onto XR-naltrexone to avoid precipitating opioid withdrawal. This requirement of detoxification represents a substantial clinical challenge, particularly in the outpatient setting. There is currently no single recognized best method for opioid detoxification prior to first dose of extended-release naltrexone (XR-naltrexone). A number of induction regimens have been explored, including the use of low doses of oral naltrexone to shorten the transition period from dependence on opioids to XR-naltrexone treatment. The goal of the study was to help establish an outpatient regimen to transition subjects from physiological opioid dependence to XR-naltrexone treatment and mitigate the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms. We hypothesized that low-dose oral naltrexone, combined with buprenorphine and psychoeducational counseling, would assist with the transition of patients with opioid use disorder onto XR-naltrexone. In this 3-arm trial, we examined the utility of oral naltrexone, buprenorphine, and a fixed regimen of ancillary medications (oral naltrexone + buprenorphine vs. oral naltrexone + placebo buprenorphine vs. placebo +placebo), to determine whether any of these regimens was associated with higher rates of induction onto XR-naltrexone. (more…)
Author Interviews, Opiods / 25.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Peter Grace PhD Professor in the Department of Critical Care Research University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He was a NHMRC Postdoctoral Fellow University of Colorado Boulder in the lab of Prof Linda Watkins MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Opioids are effective for managing pain after surgery. However, we previously showed that opioids like morphine can have unexpected long-term effect when used to treat nerve pain in rats: just 5 days of morphine treatment shortly after nerve injury doubled the duration of pain (Grace et al., 2016; PNAS). Our current study shows that something similar happens in post-operative pain. When we gave daily morphine for a week after exploratory abdominal surgery (laparotomy), the postoperative pain lasted more than twice as long compared to rats that didn’t receive morphine at all. We also showed that the prolonged pain was correlated with immune signaling in the spinal cord, similar to what we showed in our previous study (Grace et al., 2016; PNAS). Importantly, this suggests that the long-term pain caused by morphine could be blocked while retaining short-term analgesia by inhibiting immune activation.  (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, Johns Hopkins, Opiods / 24.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christine Marie Durand, M.D. Assistant Professor of Medicine Johns Hopkins Medicine  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study Response: Most Americans know that the United States faces an epidemic of deaths due to drug overdose.  And many are also aware that there is a critical shortage of organs available for transplant.  Perhaps less widely known is that today, more than 1 in every 8 deceased organ donors died from a drug overdose.  The objective of our study was to look at the outcomes of patients who received transplants with organs donated after an overdose. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emergency Care, Opiods / 08.04.2018

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  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. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods, Pharmaceutical Companies / 04.04.2018

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.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, JAMA, Opiods / 02.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, JAMA, Opiods / 02.04.2018

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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Opiods, Pediatrics / 28.03.2018

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. (more…)
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Opiods / 26.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Opiods, Pharmaceutical Companies / 23.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Opiods / 19.03.2018

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  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.   (more…)
Aging, Alcohol, Author Interviews, JAMA, Stanford / 15.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: alcohol-cdc-imageEdith 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. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA / 14.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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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