Policies Reducing Prescription Opioids Have Limited Effect on Overdose Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Opioids" by KSRE Photo is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0Dr. Qiushi Chen
(first author) and
Jagpreet Chhatwal PhD
Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
Senior Scientist, Institute for Technology Assessment
Massachusetts General Hospital

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

Response: Opioid overdose epidemic is a national public health emergency — in 2017, more than 49,000 people died from overdose. Our study shows that under current conditions, the number of deaths is projected to increase to 81,700 by 2025. Efforts to curb the epidemic by reducing the incidence of prescription opioid misuse — the primary focus of current interventions — will have a modest effect of 3-5% reduction in overdose deaths.

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Most Older Americans Willing To Discuss ‘De-Prescribing’ Some Medications

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Emily Reeve BPharm(Hons) PhD NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Fellow Northern Clinical School University of Sydney

Dr. Reeve

Dr. Emily Reeve BPharm(Hons) PhD
NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Fellow
Northern Clinical School
University of Sydney

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

Response: Older adults commonly take multiple medications. All medications carry the potential for both benefit and harm. When a medication is started a decision has been made between the healthcare professional and the patient that the likely benefits outweigh the potential risks. But over time the potential benefits and harms can change. So, part of good clinical care is discontinuation of medications when the benefit no longer outweighs the risks – for example when it is no longer needed or high risk. This is called “deprescribing”.

Previously we knew that older adults could have mixed feelings about their medications, that is, they believe that all their medications are necessary but also feel that they are a burden to them. Qualitative research has explored this further, finding that there are a number of barriers and enablers to deprescribing from the patient perspective. For example, someone might have fear of deprescribing because they are worried that their symptoms may come back. But if they know that deprescribing is a trial and they will be monitored and supported by their physician or other healthcare professional they might be more open to deprescribing.

From the physician perspective, there were concerns that older adults and their families were resistant to deprescribing and so there was fear that discussing possible medication discontinuation could damage the doctor-patient relationship.

In this study of almost 2000 older adults in the United States, we found that over 90% were willing to stop one of more of their medications if their doctor said it was possible. Additionally, one third of participants wanted to reduce the number of medications that they were taking.  Continue reading