Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Preventing avoidable opioid-related deaths top priority for pain medicine field

Date:
June 13, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Deaths related to prescription opioid therapy are under intense scrutiny, prompting those in pain medicine -- clinicians, patient advocates, and regulators -- to understand the causes behind avoidable mortality in legitimately treated patients. Studies reporting on statistics, causes, and adverse events involving opioid treatment are now available in a special supplement of the journal Pain Medicine.

Deaths related to prescription opioid therapy are under intense scrutiny, prompting those in pain medicine -- clinicians, patient advocates, and regulators -- to understand the causes behind avoidable mortality in legitimately treated patients. Studies reporting on statistics, causes, and adverse events involving opioid treatment are now available in a special supplement of Pain Medicine, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM).

Opioids are prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and include extended-release opioid analgesic drugs such as methadone, morphine, and oxycodone. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 29 million Americans age 12 and older misused extended-release and long-acting opioids in 2002 climbing to more than 33 million in 2007. The FDA also estimates that opioids were responsible for nearly 50,000 emergency room visits in 2006.

"Preventing unnecessary deaths from opioid therapy should be a central focus for everyone working in the field of pain medicine," said Lynn R. Webster, MD, FACPM, FASAM, Medical Director and Founder of Lifetree Clinical Research and Pain Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah, and officer for the AAPM. "Our primary objective is to increase understanding of the major risk factors associated with opioid-related deaths and exploring methods that mitigate the adverse effects involved in treating patients with analgesics that are potentially lethal."

One study in the Pain Medicine supplement on opioid mortality reports on the findings of epidemiologists at the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) who examined medication-related harm starting in 2004. The research team, led by Christina A. Porucznik, PhD, MSPH, of the Division of Public Health at the University of Utah analyzed several data sources including vital statistics, medical examiner records, emergency department diagnoses, and the state prescription registry. "Our analysis showed that prescription drug-related harm, including death, in Utah primarily involved opioids," commented Dr. Porucznik. "Additional studies are needed to identify risky prescribing patterns and individual-level risk factors which contribute to opioid-related injury or death."

In a related study, a panel of pain medicine experts, led by Dr. Webster, reviewed the medical literature and state and federal government sources to assess frequency, demographics and risk factors associated with overdose deaths caused by opioids. Analysis revealed a pattern of increasing opioid-related overdose deaths beginning in the early 2000s. While methadone represented less than 5% of opioid prescriptions dispensed, one third of opioid-related deaths in the U.S. were attributed to this drug.

Researchers determined that root causes of deaths from methadone included physician error due to knowledge deficits, patient non-adherence to prescribed medication regimen, and unanticipated medical or mental health comorbidities. Furthermore, some insurance companies require that methadone be used as first-line therapy to control pain over other opioid therapy. Forcing the use of methadone by health care providers who may not be aware of how to safely prescribe this drug may lead to greater mortality risk.

Additional contributors to overall opioid-related deaths included the presence of sleep-disordered breathing and use of other drugs that depress the central nervous system such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants. Approximately two thirds of opioid-related deaths are caused by opioids other than methadone. "Patients with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness who also have chronic pain need structured care that minimizes risks associated with opioid therapy," concluded Dr. Webster. "It is very difficult to safely treat chronic pain in patients who have serious mental health issues. We must strike a balance between treating pain and preventing harm."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lynn R. Webster. Ending Unnecessary Opioid-Related Deaths: A National Priority. Pain Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01124.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Preventing avoidable opioid-related deaths top priority for pain medicine field." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613014451.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, June 13). Preventing avoidable opioid-related deaths top priority for pain medicine field. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613014451.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Preventing avoidable opioid-related deaths top priority for pain medicine field." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110613014451.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins