Cigna Creates Online Initiative To Drive Patient-Provider Conversations Regarding Pain and Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Stuart Lustig, M.D., M.P.H National Medical Executive for Behavioral Health Cigna

Dr. Lustig

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.

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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

More Opioids Prescribed By Doctors Who Received Free Pharmaceutical Lunches

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.

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Do Blacks Still Get More Opioid Prescriptions?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Matthew A. Davis, MPH, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Systems, Populations and Leadership University of Michigan

Dr. Davis

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.

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Are Opioids Effective for Dental Pain?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Dental Exam” by 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support) is licensed under CC BY 2.0Paul A. Moore, DMD, PhD, MPH

School of Dental Medicine
University of Pittsburgh 

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

Response: Effective pain management is a priority in dental practice. Government and private agencies highlight the need to provide optimal pain relief, balancing potential benefits and harms of both opioid and nonopioid analgesic agents. The purpose of our study is to summarize the available evidence on the benefits and harms of analgesic agents, focusing on preexisting systematic reviews.

We found combinations of ibuprofen and acetaminophen as having the highest association with treatment benefit in adult patients and the highest proportion of adult patients who experienced maximum pain relief. Diflunisal, acetaminophen, and oxycodone were found to have the longest duration of action in adult patients. Medication and medication combinations that included opioids were among those associated most frequently with acute adverse events in both child and adult-aged patient populations.

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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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Double-Edge Sword of Drug Epidemic

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.

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More Than Half of Surveyed Chronic Pain Patients Report Opioid-Induced Constipation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi MD Senior Partner and Director of Research Naples Anesthesia and Pain Associates Naples, Florida Adjunct Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Pergolizzi

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi MD
Senior Partner and Director of Research
Naples Anesthesia and Pain Associates
Naples, Florida

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

Response: There are roughly 100 million Americans living with chronic pain and many battle debilitating side effects because of their pain medication, including Painstipation otherwise known as opioid-induced constipation (OIC.) In fact, OIC is the most common side effect with approximately 40-80 percent of patients on chronic opioid therapy experiencing it.

To better understand this community, the Painstipation survey, conducted by Salix Pharmaceuticals in partnership with the U.S. Pain Foundation, surveyed 441 U.S. adults with chronic pain who were on opioid therapy and suffering from OIC. It gave great insight into this community as it found:

  • More than half (51 percent) of chronic pain patients have been suffering from opioid-induced constipation  for three years or longer
  • Most patients (73 percent) agree that one of the biggest challenges of having OIC is that medications don’t work quickly enough to relieve pain associated with OIC.
  • 53 percent of patients say they want relief for OIC in under four hours
  • Only half of patients surveyed (73 percent) surveyed said they were informed by their doctors that taking opioid medications might result in constipation before they began taking them
  • 77 percent of respondents reported suffering from OIC for at least one year
  • When asked, roughly one-third (32 percent) of patients reported that their doctor does not talk to them specifically about potential adverse drug-to-drug interactions (DDI) of their current prescription and/or over-the-counter medications.

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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