Too Few People Who Survive Opioid Overdose Get Medication-Assisted Treatment

A new study concludes too few people who survive an opioid overdose receive medication-assisted treatment that will reduce the chance of another overdose.

The study included more than 17,500 adults who survived an opioid overdose and found only about one-third received either buprenorphine (Suboxone), methadone or naltrexone (Vivitrol), HealthDay reports.

Among people who did receive one of these medications, most did not stay on the drug for a long time, the researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers found 17 percent used buprenorphine, with a median use of four months; 11 percent used methadone, with a median use of five months; and 6 percent used naltrexone, with a median use of one month.

Full story at drugfree.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

FDA approves first medication to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is pleased to announce that lofexidine, the first medication for use in reducing symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal in adults, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Lofexidine, an oral tablet, is designed to manage the symptoms patients often experience during opioid discontinuation. Opioid withdrawal symptoms, which can begin as early as a few hours after the drug was last taken, may include aches and pains, muscle spasms/twitching, stomach cramps, muscular tension, heart pounding, insomnia/problems sleeping, feelings of coldness, runny eyes, yawning, and feeling sick, among others. The product will be marketed under the brand name LUCEMYRATM.

In 2016, more than 42,000 people died from an opioid overdose, or approximately 115 people per day. Although effective treatments exist for opioid addiction, painful and difficult withdrawal is one of the reasons treatment fails, and relapse occurs. By alleviating symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal, LUCEMYRA could help patients complete their discontinuation of opioids and facilitate successful treatment. To date, no other medications have been approved to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Becoming A Deadly Problem Among Drug Users

A pipe was the only sign of drug use found near Chris Bennett’s body in November. But it looked like the 32-year-old Taunton, Mass., native had stopped breathing and died of an opioid overdose. Bennett’s mother, Liisa, couldn’t understand what happened. Then she saw the toxicology report.

“I’m convinced he was smoking cocaine that was laced,” she says. “That’s what he had in his system, [it] was cocaine and fentanyl.”

Liisa Bennett was shocked. Chris had developed an addiction to pain pills and then heroin in his late teens but had not used opioids for at least 10 years, as far as she knew. Bennett had warned her son that if he ever used opioids again, he’d be in greater danger of an overdose because fentanyl, an opioid drug more powerful than heroin, was mixed into much of the supply.

Full story at npr.org

More Americans Should Carry Naloxone: Surgeon General

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams released a public health advisory Thursday urging more Americans to carry the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, NPR reports.

Naloxone is already carried by many first responders, such as EMTs and police officers. The Surgeon General is recommending that more people, including people at risk for an opioid overdose, as well as their family and friends, also keep naloxone nearby.

“For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life,” he said in a statement.

Full story at drugfree.org