Children’s Accidental Exposure to Buprenorphine on the Rise

Children’s accidental exposure to the opioid addiction medication buprenorphine is increasing, according to new data from U.S. poison control centers.

Between 2007 and 2016, poison control centers received 11,275 calls about children’s exposure to buprenorphine, CNN reports. Eighty-six percent of exposures were in children younger than 6, and 89 percent of the exposures were unintentional. Buprenorphine can dangerously slow young children’s breathing. Almost one-quarter of the children under 6 who are exposed spend time in intensive care, the researchers noted.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Methadone and buprenorphine reduce risk of death after opioid overdose

A National Institutes of Health-funded study found that treatment of opioid use disorder with either methadone or buprenorphine following a nonfatal opioid overdose is associated with significant reductions in opioid related mortality. The research, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was co-funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, both parts of NIH.

Study authors analyzed data from 17,568 adults in Massachusetts who survived an opioid overdose between 2012 and 2014. Compared to those not receiving medication assisted treatment, opioid overdose deaths decreased by 59 percent for those receiving methadone and 38 percent for those receiving buprenorphine over the 12 month follow-up period. The authors were unable to draw conclusions about the impact of naltrexone due to small sample size, noting that further work is needed with larger samples. Buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are three FDA-approved medications used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).

Full story at drugabuse.org

Text Messaging Program Could Increase Adherence to Buprenorphine Treatment

Researchers are testing whether a text messaging system can increase patient adherence to buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction.

“We use text messaging in our society for so many things, but for something as critical as opioid treatment, we really didn’t have any text messaging system to support patients,” said lead researcher Babak Tofighi, M.D. Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Dr. Tofighi works with patients at Bellevue Hospital, many of whom do not have access to smartphones. “Text messaging can reach people at all income levels, with all sorts of phones, even basic ones,” he said. “The patient population we are targeting may not have iPhones, but they can receive texts. Even a simple reminder hopefully could increase adherence to treatment and reduce overdoses and relapses.”

Full story at drugfree.org

Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Now Eligible to Prescribe Buprenorphine

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants will now be eligible to prescribe and dispense the opioid addiction treatment buprenorphine from their office, Reutersreports.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said the change will make it easier for residents of underserved areas to receive treatment for opioid addiction.

The new rule is a result of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act(CARA), passed in 2016. The law expanded access to substance use treatment services and overdose reversal medications by extending the privilege of prescribing buprenorphine in office-based settings to qualifying nurse practitioners and physician assistants. CARA requires that nurse practitioners and physician assistants complete 24 hours of training to be eligible to prescribe buprenorphine.

Full story at drugfree.org

Although their introductions as treatment are different, two top medications for opioid addiction are equally effective

With opioid addiction officially declared a public health emergency in the U.S., medical intervention to treat the illness is increasingly important in responding to the epidemic. Now, a new study concludes that two of the top medications available for outpatient, office-based treatment, once initiated, are equally safe and effective in curtailing opioid use, relapse, treatment drop-out and overdose.

Researchers in the Departments of Psychiatry and Population Health at NYU School of Medicine, who led the study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and published online November 14, 2017 in The Lancet, conclude that extended-release naltrexone (an opioid antagonist marketed as Vivitrol) demonstrated similar safety and clinical effectiveness to more commonly prescribed buprenorphine-naloxone (an opioid agonist marketed both generically and as Suboxone).

However, the study also points out differences that have previously been known: Patients being treated with naltrexone must detoxify before it can be administered. (This is commonly referred to as the “detox hurdle.”) On the other hand, buprenorphine allows individuals to transition relatively seamlessly from opioid use to medication maintenance without needing to detoxify.

Full story at Science Daily