15 Percent of Teens and Young Adults Prescribed Opioids During ER Visit

Almost 15 percent of teens and young adults are prescribed opioids during an emergency room visit, according to a new study.

In contrast, 3 percent of teens and young adults seen in an outpatient clinic receive an opioid prescription, NBC News reports.

“Adolescents and young adults are such a high-risk population for opioid misuse and future addiction,” said study author Joel Hudgins, M.D., of the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “We found the rates of opioid prescriptions were pretty high, at 15 percent, which is right in line with adult data.”

Full story at drugfree.org

NIH Solicits Research into Vaccines to Protect against Opioid Use

Opiate and opioid drugs killed 70,000 Americans1 in 2017, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest grim note in a still growing addiction crisis and demanding a wide public health response. In May 2017, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, wrote that it was time for “all scientific hands on deck,” and highlighted the need to invest in new technologies beyond the standard toolset for reversing opioid drug overdoses and treating addiction.2

NIH has now announced new resources for research into one such alternate approach to combatting the opioid epidemic, immunotherapy.

A March 20 solicitation from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases3(NIAID), announced the division’s search for outside researchers interested in developing vaccines to protect against heroin and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, with goal of awarding multiple groups contracts, according to Kentner Singleton, PhD, program officer in the basic immunology branch of NIAID. He expects to announce the awards by August 2020. “Once we make the awards, we can facilitate collaborations between all the different groups so we can leverage the strength of one group to minimize the weakness of another group, so that we can have a cohesive consortium of investigators all working towards the same goal in unison and in parallel,” he says. “At the end of the day, the goal is to have a product that is brought into clinical trials.”

Full story at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Facebook Launches Initiative to Encourage Discussion on Opioid Dependency

Facebook is collaborating with Partnership for Drug-Free Kids + Center on Addiction to launch an initiative to encourage people to discuss their experiences with opioid dependency.

The “Stop Opioid Silence” (SOS) campaign is designed to reduce stigmas surrounding opioid addiction. The campaign highlights the stories of 12 people’s journey with opioid addiction, either through their own experiences or those of a loved one. They discuss what led them to addiction and how they recovered.

Elements of the campaign, which is slated to run for two months, will be shared on Facebook and Instagram. It will also be shared through ads on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids + Center on Addiction.

Full story at drugfree.org

More States Say Doctors Must Offer Overdose Reversal Drug Along With Opioids

In a growing number of states, patients who get opioids for serious pain may leave their doctors’ offices with a second prescription — for naloxone, a drug that can save their lives if they overdose on the powerful painkillers.

New state laws and regulations in California, Virginia, Arizona, Ohio, Washington, Vermont and Rhode Island require physicians to “co-prescribe” or at least offer naloxone prescriptions when prescribing opioids to patients considered at high risk of overdosing. Patients can be considered at high risk if they need a large opioid dosage, take certain other drugs or have sleep apnea or a history of addiction.

Such co-prescribing mandates are emerging as the latest tactic in a war against an epidemic of prescription and illegal opioids that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives over the past two decades.

Full story at Kaiser Health News

Drug overdose rates are rising, but can we ‘curb the epidemic for good?’

Drugs kill thousands of people in the United States and globally every year. New research may help develop more effective methods to curb the epidemic.

“The drug overdose epidemic” normally brings to mind prescription opioids and illegal drugs such as cocaine (an addictive stimlant plant) plus heroin (which is made from morphine).

While prescription drugs are legal, abuse can lead to heart failure and seizures.

Full story at Medical News Today