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

Failed osteoarthritis drug could help treat opioid addiction

A new study from Indiana University suggests that a drug proven safe for use in people may prevent opioid tolerance and physical dependence when used in combination with opioid-based pain medications.

Researchers in the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science at IU Bloomington have discovered that a compound previously tested to treat osteoarthritis pain appears to block neuropathic pain and decrease signs of opioid dependence. The work is reported in the journal Molecular Pharmacology.

Human trials of the drug to treat osteoarthritis pain conducted by Indianapolis-based drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co. found that the drug lacked efficacy. However, the drug’s use in treating other kinds of pain and lessening opioid dependence had not been tested before.

Full story at Science Daily

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

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Deaths During Opioid-Related Hospital Stays in U.S. Quadrupled

A new study released earlier this week confirms that deaths in opioid-related hospital stays in the U.S. have quadrupled between 1993 and 2014, PBS NewsHour reports.

Zirui Song, an assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, launched the study in 2016 in an effort to gain a better understanding of the patients he treated.

Dr. Song analyzed nearly 385,000 hospital stays involving patients who were admitted for opioid use with data from the National Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a national database compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality.

Full story at drugfree.org