More Pharmacies Willing To Dispense Naloxone Without Prescription

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kirk Evoy, PharmD, BCACP, BC-ADM, CTTS
"Wolf Administration Holds a Press Conference Expanding Access to Naloxone" by Governor Tom Wolf is licensed under CC BY 2.0Clinical Assistant Professor
 College of Pharmacy, The University of Texas at Austin
Adjoint Assistant Professor
 School of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Ambulatory Care Pharmacist
 Southeast Clinic, University Health System
 UT Health Science Center at San Antonio
Pharmacotherapy Education and Research Center
San Antonio, TX 78229 

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

Response: Previous studies in Indiana and New York City, and the similar study in California published alongside ours identified that, despite the fact that laws designed to increase naloxone access had been in place for 2-3 years, patients were still not able to obtain naloxone without first seeing a doctor in many pharmacies.

Our study showed contrasting results to the previous studies, with a much higher proportion of pharmacies stocking naloxone and stating their willingness to dispense without an outside prescription. Among the 2,317 Texas chain community pharmacies we contacted, 83.7% correctly informed our interviewers that they could obtain naloxone without having to get a prescription from their doctor before coming to the pharmacy.  We also found that 76.4% of the pharmacies had at least one type of naloxone currently in stock. Continue reading

Not All Pharmacies Have Naloxone for Opioid Overdose in Stock

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Talia Puzantian,  PharmD, BCPP Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences,  School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Keck Graduate Institute 

Dr. Puzantian

Talia Puzantian,  PharmD, BCPP
Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences,
School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Keck Graduate Institute  

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

Response: Naloxone has been used in hospitals and emergency rooms since the early 1970s. Distribution to laypersons began in the mid-1990s with harm reduction programs such as clean needle exchange programs providing it, along with education, to mostly heroin users. In the years between 1996-2014, 152,000 naloxone kits were distributed in this way with more than 26,000 overdoses reversed (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6423a2.htm).

We have data showing that counties in which there was greater naloxone distribution among laypeople, there were lower opioid death rates (Walley AY et al BMJ 2013). However, not all opioid users at risk for overdose will interface with harm reduction programs, particularly prescription opioid users, hence more recent efforts to increase access to laypersons through pharmacists. Naloxone access laws have been enacted in all 50 states but very little has been published about how they’ve been adopted by pharmacists thus far. One small study (264 pharmacies) from Indiana (Meyerson BE et al Drug Alcohol Depend 2018) showed that 58.1% of pharmacies stocked naloxone, only 23.6% provided it without prescription, and that large chain pharmacies were more likely to do so.

Continue reading

US Tops Opioids Deaths Among 13 High Income Countries

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Drug Addiction" by Joana Faria is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0Yingxi (Cimo) Chen, MD, MPH, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Radiation Epidemiology Branch, DCEG, NCI, NIH
Rockville MD 20850 

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

Response: Death rates from drug overdose have more than doubled in the US in the 21st century. Similar increases in drug overdose deaths have been reported in other high-income countries but few studies have compared rates across countries.  Continue reading

Most Surgical Patients Only Use About 25% Of Their Prescribed Opioids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Trump: 'The opioid crisis is an emergency'" by Marco Verch is licensed under CC BY 2.0Joceline Vu, MD

Resident, PGY-5
Department of Surgery
University of Michigan 

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

Response: This study examined how much opioid patients use after surgery, and looked at factors that might predispose some patients to use more or less.

Patient opioid use after surgery is an interesting question that’s gained a lot of attention recently, because it’s different from other uses for opioids. If you have chronic pain, you’re probably going to use all of your prescription. But if you have surgery, you may not take all of your pills, and this leaves people with leftover pills that can be dangerous later.

From this study, we found that patients only use, on average, about quarter of their prescription, meaning that a lot of them are left with leftover pills. Moreover, we found that the biggest determinant of how much they used wasn’t how much pain they reported, or any other factor—it was how big their original prescription was.

What this means is that opioid use after surgery isn’t just determined by pain, but also by what surgeons prescribe. It’s important to keep this in mind as we try to reduce unnecessary opioid prescribing after surgical procedures.  Continue reading

States Vary in Parental Opioid Use and Child Removal Rates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Troy Quast, PhD Associate Professor in the University South Florida College of Public Health

Dr. Quast

Troy Quast, PhD
Associate Professor in the University
South Florida College of Public Healt

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

Response: One of the cited repercussions of the opioid epidemic is its effect on families. However, there is considerable variation in opioid misuse across the county. This is the first nation-wide study to investigate the relationship between opioid prescription rates and child removals at the state level.

I found that there are significant differences across states in the relationship between opioid prescription and child removal rates associated with parental substance abuse. In twenty-three states, increases in opioid prescription rates were associated with increases in the child removal rate. For instance, in California a 10% increase in the county average prescription rate was associated with a 28% increase in the child removal rate. By contrast, in fifteen states the association was flipped, where increases in the opioid prescription rate were associated with decreases in the child removal rate. There was no statistically significant relationship in the remaining states.  Continue reading

The US Opioid Crisis is Expanding and Worse Among Young People

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joshua Barocas, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine Section of Infectious Diseases Boston Medical Center / Boston University School of Medicine Joshua Barocas, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Section of Infectious Diseases
Boston Medical Center / Boston University School of Medicine 

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

Response: Massachusetts has been particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic despite lower opioid prescribing rates, near universal health insurance, and availability of opioid treatment. That said, it is difficult to estimate the population with or at-risk for opioid use disorder. It is generally a highly stigmatized disease and typical methods to estimate of opioid use disorder relay on contact with the healthcare system and/or patient reporting.

We used a unique and powerful methodology coupled with a first-in-the-nation linked database in Massachusetts to obtain both an accurate count of people with opioid use disorder who are known to the healthcare system and estimate the number who are out there but not yet known to the system.

We found that more than 275,000 people – or 4.6 percent of people over the age of 11 in Massachusetts– have opioid use disorder, a figure nearly four times higher than previous estimates based on national data. In 2011 and 2012, the prevalence of opioid use disorder in Massachusetts for those over the age of 11 was 2.72 percent and 2.87 percent, respectively. That increased to 3.87 percent in 2013, and even more, to 4.6 percent in 2015. Those between the ages of 11 and 25 experienced the greatest increase in prevalence of all age groups. The number of “known” persons increased throughout the study period – from 63,989 in 2011 to 75,431 in 2012, and 93,878 in 2013 to 119,160 in 2015.  Continue reading

Fentanyl Strips Can Prevent Opioid Overdoses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"150826-fentanyl-factory-underground-illicit.jpg" by r. nial bradshaw is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Jon Zibbell, PhD,
Senior public health scientist
Behavioral Health Research Division
RTI International
Research Triangle Park, NC, 

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

Response: For the first time in 2016, U.S. overdose deaths involving illicitly-manufactured fentanyl surpassed deaths from heroin and prescription deaths.

Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid, and an illicitly-manufactured form of the drug is regularly being mixed with heroin and often sold to unwitting consumers. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and its illicitly-manufactured version is extremely difficult to discern when mixed with heroin. Harm reduction organizations have started to distribute FTS and people consuming street-purchased opioids are using them to test drugs for fentanyl. Our objective was to assess whether this point-of-use form of drug checking was influencing people’s drug use behavior. The study was self-funded by the research institute RTI International.

Our findings show that consumers who tested street opioids with fentanyl test strips were five times more likely to engage in safer drug use behavior when the test comes back positive. The study was conducted among a group of 125 people who inject drugs in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Continue reading

Who Is Most Vulnerable To Opioid Prescription Use?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology University at Buffalo, SUNY

Dr. GROL-PROKOPCZYK

Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
University at Buffalo, SUNY

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

Response: Studies examining predictors of prescription opioid use often have limited information about users’ socioeconomic status, their level of pain, and their opinions of opioids.  Using unique data from the Health and Retirement Study’s 2005-2006 Prescription Drug Study—which includes information about older adults’ education, income, wealth, insurance type, pain level, and opinions of prescription drugs used—I was able to explore how socioeconomic factors shaped prescription opioid use in the 2000s, when U.S. opioid use was at its peak.  I was also able to present a snapshot of how users of prescription opioids felt about these drugs before the declaration of an opioid epidemic.

Continue reading

Surgeons Likely Overprescribing Opioids After Rhinoplasty

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David A. Shaye, M.D., FACS Instructor in Otolaryngology Harvard Medical School 

Dr. Shaye

David A. Shaye, M.D., FACS
Instructor in Otolaryngology
Harvard Medical School 

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

Response: Cosmetic and functional rhinoplasty (nasal surgery) is the most common procedure we perform and traditionally post operative pain medication includes opioids.

In light of the recent opioid epidemic, we wished to investigate if patients pain was being treated over-treated by surgeons.

Of 173 Rhinoplasties that we performed, the majority of patients received post operative opioid tablets (an average of 28 tablets).  However 11% of patients did not fill these prescriptions at all, and only 2 of the 178 patients required refills.

We believe patients experienced less pain than surgeons anticipated.

Continue reading

Opioid Prescriptions Drop After 2016 CDC Guidelines Released

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gery P. Guy Jr., PhD, MPH Senior Health Economist Division of Unintentional Injury CDC

Dr. Gery Guy

Gery P. Guy Jr., PhD, MPH
Senior Health Economist
Division of Unintentional Injury
CDC

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

Response: In response to the increasing harms and adverse outcomes from prescription opioids, the CDC released the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in March 2016. The CDC Guideline recommends evidence-based practices for opioid use for patients age 18 years and older in primary care settings in treating chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

This report analyzed the temporal changes in opioid prescribing following the release of the CDC Guideline.

Continue reading

Illicit Drug Use Spikes During Special Events

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bikram Subedi, PhD Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry Murray State University, Murray KYBikram Subedi, PhD

Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry
Murray State University, Murray KY

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

Response: The USA is one of the major consumers of diverse neuropsychiatric and illegal drugs, and recently declared a national public health emergency on opioid abuse. Law enforcement typically utilized conventional methods of determining drug consumption rate which are based on survey questionnaire, hospital admissions, drug-related crime statistics, and self-reported information. Conventional methods typically underestimate the actual consumption rate of drugs.

Our new approach of determining consumption rates of drugs in community is time and cost effecting and comprehensive. Based on levels of drugs quantified from raw sewage, the per capita consumption rates of several illicit drugs including methamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine, and THC in two communities of Western Kentucky (similar population and only ~50 miles apart) were significantly different. During special events such as July 4th and 2017 solar eclipse, the consumption rates were found even higher. The consumption rate of methamphetamine was among one of the highest ever reported in the country.  Continue reading

Pregabalin Linked To Increased Risk for Opioid-Related Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tara Gomes, MHSc Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy Department of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tara Gomes

Tara Gomes, MHSc
Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital,
The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
Department of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation
University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

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

Response: Pregabalin is a medication increasingly being prescribed to manage pain, however there is emerging evidence that this drug may increase one’s risk of opioid overdose when prescribed with opioids.

Continue reading

Veterinarians Fear Humans May Divert Opioids Intended for Pets

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Pets” by GRANT DAWSON is licensed under CC BY 2.0Derek S. Mason, MPH

Colorado University School of Medicine
MD Candidate, Class of 2022
Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO

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

Response: The background for this report stems from a focus group of veterinarians that was held and identified that opioid diversion could be occurring within clinics.

After this, we became concerned that human patients were indeed diverting opioids for abuse and misuse and we wanted to get a broader sense from the veterinary medical community if they had been aware of opioid diversion happening within their clinics.

Additionally, we noticed that there was a gap in the scientific literature on how the veterinary medical community feels about the opioid epidemic. As prescribers of opioids, we felt that their input was highly valuable and should be included in the discussion on how to prevent opioid abuse and misuse.  Continue reading

Wisdom Tooth Extraction Can Lead To Persistent Opioid Use

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Calista Harbaugh, MD House Officer, General Surgery Clinician Scholar, National Clinician Scholars Program Research Fellow, Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network University of Michigan 

Dr. Harbaugh

Calista Harbaugh, MD
House Officer, General Surgery
Clinician Scholar, National Clinician Scholars Program
Research Fellow, Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network
University of Michigan 

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

Response: Wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most common procedures among teens and young adults, with more than 3.5 million young people having wisdom teeth pulled every year.

This procedure is commonly paired with a prescription for opioid pain medication. As the opioid epidemic sweeps the nation, we must pay attention to the long term effects of opioid prescribing for even routine procedures. This is particularly important for wisdom tooth extraction where there is evidence that opioid pain medications may be no more effective than anti-inflammatories alone.

Using commercial insurance claims, we evaluated the association between receiving an opioid prescription with wisdom tooth extraction and developing new persistent opioid use in the year after the procedure. We found nearly a 3-fold increase in odds of persistent opioid use, attributable to whether or not an opioid was prescribed. This translates to nearly 50,000 young people developing new persistent opioid use each year from routine opioid prescribing for wisdom tooth extraction.

Continue reading

LUCEMYRA (Lofexidine) Now Available to Reduce Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mark Pirner, MD, PhD Senior Medical Director Clinical Research and Medical Affairs US WorldMeds

Dr. Mark Pirner

Mark Pirner, MD, PhD
Senior Medical Director
Clinical Research and Medical Affairs
US WorldMeds

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this announcement? How does lofexidine differ from other opioid withdrawal medications?

Response: LUCEMYRA™ (lofexidine) was FDA-approved on May 16 as the first and only non-opioid, non-addictive medication for the management of opioid withdrawal in adults.
LUCEMYRA mitigates the acute and painful symptoms of opioid withdrawal by suppressing the neurochemical surge in the brain that occurs when opioids are abruptly discontinued.

In clinical studies, patients receiving treatment with LUCEMYRA experienced greater symptom relief and were significantly more likely to complete their withdrawal. LUCEMYRA is not an opioid drug and is not a treatment for opioid use disorder; it should be used as part of a longer-term treatment plan.

Continue reading

Ketamine vs Opioids for Acute Pain in the Emergency Department

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Evan Schwarz, MD FACEP, FACMT Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Medical Toxicology Fellowship Director Section Chief Medical Toxicology Advisory Dean in the Office of Student Affairs Division of Emergency Medicine Washington University School of Medicine

Dr. Schwarz

Evan Schwarz, MD FACEP, FACMT
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
Medical Toxicology Fellowship Director
Section Chief Medical Toxicology
Advisory Dean in the Office of Student Affairs
Division of Emergency Medicine
Washington University School of Medicine 

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

Response: Ketamine is being increasingly used in the emergency department (ED) for a variety of conditions, including as an analgesic. While its usage continues to increase, there are limited studies evaluating ketamine as an analgesic in the emergency department.

Most of the studies evaluating ketamine utilized it as an adjunct to an opioid, however, multiple recommendations on blogs and other websites recommend ketamine as a single agent. The purpose of the meta-analysis was to compare the analgesic effect of ketamine compared to an opioid in adult patients presenting with acute pain to the ED.

In this study, we found that ketamine was non-inferior to opioids. We also found that the number of severe adverse events to be similar between both groups.

Continue reading

Opioid Prescription Rates Higher in South, Appalachia and Rural West

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Lyndsey Rolheiser MD Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Center for Population Studies Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dr. Rolheiser

Dr. Lyndsey Rolheiser PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Center for Population Studies
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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

Response: The opioid crisis was declared a “public health emergency” in 2017. Opioid related overdoses and prescribing rates have increased dramatically over the past decade and previous literature has identified a relationship between high-dose prescriptions and overdose deaths. Thus, understanding the variation and trends in the opioid prescribing rate is crucial in understanding the nature of the opioid epidemic. Opioid prescribing data is publicly available at the county and state level.

County level data represents an administrative boundary that lacks political representation and accountability. In contrast, the congressional district represents a geography that has both of these characteristics. Further, knowing the congressional district level rates allows for policy makers and researchers to observe the variation that exists within states.

The main findings are high prescribing rate districts are concentrated in the South, Appalachia and the rural West. Low-rate districts are concentrated in urban centers.

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

Response: There is a great deal of variation across congressional districts, but there are also very clear geographical patterns. In terms of policy, this paper highlights the importance of constructing and disseminating crucial public health data at a politically relevant boundary.

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

Response: Our hope is that the estimates we have created can be used within health related public policy research.

Citation: Lyndsey A. Rolheiser, Jack Cordes, BSPH, S.V. Subramanian. Opioid Prescribing Rates by Congressional Districts, United States, 2016. American Journal of Public Health, 2018; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304532

Jul 22, 2018 @ 11:46 am

The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

 

Criminal Justice System Involvement High Among Those With Opioid Use Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tyler Winkelman MD, MSc   Clinician-Investigator Division of General Internal Medicine, Hennepin Healthcare Center for Patient and Provider Experience, Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute Assistant Professor Departments of Medicine & Pediatrics University of Minnesota

Dr. Winkelman

Tyler Winkelman MD, MSc 
Clinician-Investigator
Division of General Internal Medicine, Hennepin Healthcare
Center for Patient and Provider Experience, Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute
Assistant Professor
Departments of Medicine & Pediatrics
University of Minnesota

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

Response: Opioid overdose deaths continue to escalate, and there have been reports that jails and prisons are bearing the brunt of the opioid epidemic. However, it wasn’t known, nationally, how many people who use opioids were involved in the criminal justice system. We also didn’t have recent estimates of common physical and mental health conditions among people with different levels of opioid use.

We used two years of national survey data to understand these associations, which are critical in developing a public health response to the opioid epidemic.

Continue reading

Surgery For Spondylolisthesis (Spinal Stress Fractures) Reduced Chances of Opioid Dependence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Beatrice Ugiliweneza, PhD, MSPH Assistant Professor Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine Department of Health Management and Systems Science School of Public Health and Information Sciences University of Louisville

Dr. Ugiliweneza

Beatrice Ugiliweneza, PhD, MSPH
Assistant Professor
Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center
Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine
Department of Health Management and Systems Science
School of Public Health and Information Sciences
University of Louisville

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

Response: This study stems from the observed opioid crisis in the United States in recent years. Opioids are used in the management of pain. In the spine population, back pain is one of the main conditions for which opioids are consumed.

A frequent cause of that pain is degenerative spondylolisthesis. We aimed to evaluate the effect of surgery, which has been shown to improve outcomes, on opioid dependence. We found that surgery is associated with reduced odds of opioid dependence.

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

Response: One interesting finding that we observed is that patients are twice less likely to become opioid dependent than they are to become dependent after surgery. However, an important note to keep in mind is that about 10% of patients will be opioid dependent after surgery (about 6% prior non-dependent and 4% prior dependent).  

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

Response: Surgery has been proven to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life for patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis. Future research should explore why some patients remain or become opioid dependent after surgery.

It would also be interesting to look at the effect of other treatments for degenerative spondylolisthesis (such as epidural steroid injections for example) on opioid dependence.

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

Response: Spine surgeons should have systems that help them recognize patients who are likely to become opioid dependent after surgery. Our paper discusses factors to watch for such as younger age, prior dependence, etc… This would help provide targeted attention and hopefully combat the ramping opioid crisis.

The authors have no disclosures. 

Citation:

Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Posted online on June 19, 2018.
Factors predicting opioid dependence in patients undergoing surgery for degenerative spondylolisthesis: analysis from the MarketScan databases
Mayur Sharma, MD, MCh, Beatrice Ugiliweneza, PhD, MSPH1, Zaid Aljuboori, MD1, Miriam A.Nuño, PhD2, Doniel Drazin, MD3, and  Maxwell Boakye, MD, MPH, MBA1

The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

 

Potentially 70,000 Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths Undercounted

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jeanine M. Buchanich, Ph.D. Research associate  Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate  School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics

Dr. Buchanich

Jeanine M. Buchanich, Ph.D.
Research associate
Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate
School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics

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

Response: In the U.S., cause of death codes are assigned by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) using information reported by the coroner or medical examiner completing the death certificate. Drug-specific overdose deaths are identified by the contributory causes of death, which are categorized as “T codes” and are assigned based on the specific drugs recorded by the coroner or medical examiner completing the death certificate. A code of T50.9 means “other and unspecified drugs, medicaments and biological substances.”

My colleagues and I extracted death data by state for 1999 through 2015 from the NCHS’s Mortality Multiple Cause Micro-data Files. We grouped overdose deaths into opioid-related, non-opioid-related and unspecified codes. In five states – Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Pennsylvania – more than 35 percent of the overdose deaths were coded as unspecified.

We then calculated the change in percentage of overdose deaths that fell into each category from 1999 to 2015 by state. In those 17 years, opioid-related overdose deaths rose 401 percent, non-opioid-related overdose deaths rose 150 percent and unspecified overdose deaths rose 220 percent.

This allowed us to extrapolate how many of the unspecified overdose deaths were likely opioid-related. By our calculations, potentially 70,000 opioid-related overdose deaths were not included in national opioid-related mortality estimates since 1999 because coroners and medical examiners did not specify the drug that contributed to the cause of death when completing the death certificates.  Continue reading

Buprenorphine Exposures Among Children and Adolescents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gary Smith, MD, DrPH Director, Center for Injury Research and Policy Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus, OH

Dr. Smith

Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH
Director, Center for Injury Research and Policy
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Columbus, OH

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

Response: Buprenorphine is a prescription opioid medication commonly used to treat opioid use disorder. From 2005 to 2010, the annual number of individual patients who received a buprenorphine prescription increased from 100,000 to more than 800,000. Although buprenorphine is important for the treatment of opioid use disorder, pediatric exposure to this medication can result in serious adverse outcomes.

Continue reading

More Medicaid Enrollees Receiving Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, But Disparities Remain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bradley D. Stein MD PhD Senior Physician Policy Researcher Pittsburgh Office Rand Corporation

Dr. Stein

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.

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Concurrent Opioids and Benzodiazepines Raise Risk of Overdose, esp. Early On

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Dr. Hernandez

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.

Continue reading

Most Patients Who Survive Overdose Do Not Receive FDA Approved Medications for Opioid Use Disorder

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marc R. Larochelle, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine Boston University School of Medicine Boston MA

Dr. Larochelle


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.

Continue reading

Treatment Initiation for Opioid Use Disorder in Emergency Departments

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

Dr. Duber

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 Continue reading