Reducing Opioids Near End of Hospital Stay May Limit Outpatient Use

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jason Kennedy, MS Research project manager Department of Critical Care Medicine University of Pittsburgh

Jason Kennedy

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.  Continue reading

Can Opioid Users Be Transitioned To Extended-Release Naltrexone?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Maria Sullivan MD PhD Senior Medical Director of Clinical Research and Development Alkermes

Dr. Sullivan

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.

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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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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

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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One Step Closer To Vaccine Against Heroin Addiction

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0Candy Hwang, Ph.D.

The Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla, CA 92037

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

Response: Our heroin vaccine is designed to stimulate antibodies to recognize and bind heroin, preventing passage of drug molecules to the brain. By essentially blocking the “high” from heroin, we believe this will assist recovering addicts from relapsing. Last year, we reported a heroin vaccine that was shown to be effective in both mouse and non-human primate models. In this current study, we were interested in enhancing our heroin vaccine by exploring different vaccine components and dosages.

Once we discovered the most promising vaccine formulations, we wanted to see if our vaccines would be stable under different storage conditions. We found that our heroin vaccine was shelf stable under different temperatures and as a powder or in liquid form, meaning that the vaccine will remain stable for transport and storage. The best vaccine formulation from these studies showed protection against lethal doses of heroin.

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Why Do Persons With Alcohol Use Disorder Not Adhere To Naltrexone Treatment?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Alcohol” by zeevveez is licensed under CC BY 2.0Sarah Dermody PhD

Assistant professor
School of Psychological Science
College of Liberal Art
Oregon State University 

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

Response: Naltrexone is an FDA-approved medication to treat alcohol use disorder. We know that people have difficulty adhering to the prescribed daily medication regimen, and that people who do not adhere to the medication tend not to fair as well in treatment as people who take the medication regularly.

This particular study attempted to address the question of why do people with alcohol use disorder have difficulty taking the medication daily? What we found was that people were less likely to take naltrexone after days of heavy drinking or strong alcohol craving versus typical drinking and craving levels. Furthermore, individuals were less likely to take the medication on weekends versus weekdays, which is particularly worrisome because heaviest drinking episodes tend to happen on the weekends.

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Analyzing Street Drugs Can Provide Early Warning of Potential For Fatal Overdoses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“MEXICO-DRUGS/” by Claudio Toledo is licensed under CC BY 2.0Kathleen Creppage, M.P.H., C.P.H.
Doctoral candidate Graduate School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh

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

Response: In the U.S., fatal heroin overdoses have increased in the past decade by 300 percent, with fentanyl – a substance that is 20 to 50 times more potent than heroin – and its analogs increasingly contributing to overdoses. The drug often is implicated in clusters of overdose deaths when it is mixed with heroin and users do not realize what they are taking is more powerful than usual.

We analyzed the test results of 16,594 stamp bags seized as evidence by law enforcement authorities in Allegheny County that were submitted to the county’s Office of the Medical Examiner for laboratory testing from 2010 through 2016. Stamp bags are small wax packets that contain mixtures of illicit drugs, most commonly heroin, packaged for sale and sometimes stamped with a graphical logo by drug dealers to market their contents.

Before 2014, none of the tested bags contained fentanyl. By 2016 it was found in 15.5 percent of the tested stamp bags, with 4.1 percent containing fentanyl as the only controlled substance present.

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Vancouver Study: 100% of Opioid-Users Tested Positive for Fentanyl

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Drugs” by Ben Harvey is licensed under CC BY 2.0William G. Honer, MD, FRCPC, FCAHS

Jack Bell Chair in Schizophrenia
Professor and Head, Department of Psychiatry
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC

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

Response: The Province of British Columbia, Canada, has experienced a tremendous increase in the number of opioid related overdoses and deaths. In 2012, there were 269 drug overdose deaths, five years later in 2017 the overdose deaths are predicted to have increased 500%. Toxicology studies of deaths, and examination of seized drugs indicate fentanyl is the major cause.

These indirect measures suggest widespread exposure to fentanyl in opioid users, however direct studies of the extent of exposure of opioid users to fentanyl in the community are lacking. We carried out a community-based, longitudinal study using fentanyl testing in urine samples from volunteer participants. (It is called the “Hotel Study” since many of the participants live, or have lived in single room occupancy hotels)  Continue reading