FDA Did Not Stop Off-Label Prescribing for Fast-Acting Fentanyl Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not act to stop off-label prescribing for fast-acting fentanyl drugs, putting patients at high risk of accidental overdose and death, The New York Times reports.

The drugs are approved only for cancer patients with high opioid tolerance. They have been prescribed off-label, meaning for other purposes, to patients with back pain and migraines, the article notes. The drugs are quick-absorbing fentanyl sprays, tablets and lozenges that contain a narcotic up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and up to 100 times stronger than morphine. These drugs include Actiq, Fentora and Subsys.

Full story at drugfree.org

Featured News: Meth Use is Rising Among People Who Use Opioids

Over one-third of people using opioids in 2017 reported also using methamphetamine – more than double the rate in 2011, according to a new study.

The study included 13,251 participants in 47 states who entered a substance abuse treatment program for opioid use disorder. The researchers found past month concurrent opioid and methamphetamine use doubled from 16.7 percent in 2011 to 34.2 percent in 2017.

Concurrent meth and opioid use increased among both men and women, among whites and in those under age 45, the researchers found. Past-month meth use significantly increased among those using prescription opioids alone, heroin alone and both prescription opioids and heroin.

Full story at drugfree.org

Journal commentary addresses role of dentists in opioid crisis

Addressing the vital role of dentists in helping to alleviate the opioid crisis is the subject of a commentary, publishing today in the Journal of the American Dental Association. The commentary, authored by Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Dr. Martha Somerman, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, both parts of the National Institutes of Health, highlights how the Institutes are working together to support scientific research for those in clinical practice.

In the late 1990s, dentists were the top specialty prescribers of opioids. Due to a number of initiatives, prescriptions by dentists dropped more than 50 percent by 2012.  However, the authors argue that more needs to be done to continue to reduce opioid misuse and abuse. The commentary discusses several ways scientific evidence can help guide clinical care decisions.

Full story at drugabuse.org


Featured News: Study Finds “Gender Paradox” in Opioid Overdose Rates Among Young Adults

A study of young adults who misuse opioids finds that although women have a higher prevalence of potential risk factors for overdose such as mental health issues and sexual victimization, their lifetime prevalence of overdose is similar to that of men. This suggests women may have some protective factors that mitigate overdose risk, says lead author Kelly A. Quinn, MPH, PhD, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health and researcher at National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI).

“Females in this sample have so many extra life stressors, yet they aren’t necessarily misusing drugs at higher rates than men or engaging in riskier practices,” she said. “We don’t yet know which protective factors might explain this ‘gender paradox’ in opioid overdose, but we think it could be social support, or increased resiliency, or greater knowledge of how to use drugs without harming themselves,” Dr. Quinn said. She presented findings at the recent annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence with co-authors and NDRI Principal Investigators of the main study, Honoria Guarino and Pedro Mateu-Gelabert.

Full story at drugfree.org

People Who Know Someone Addicted to Opioids Less Likely to Say Economy is Good

A new report by the Federal Reserve finds people who know someone who has been addicted to opioids are less likely to give the national or local economy a favorable rating.

The survey found one out of five Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers, according to NPR. The survey found exposure to opioid addiction was twice as likely among whites, regardless of education levels, compared with African-Americans. This is the first year the Federal Reserve has included questions about opioid addiction in its annual survey, the article notes.

Full story at drugfree.org