ERs Report Opioid Overdoses Jumped 30 Percent in One Year


Hospital emergency rooms reported a 30 percent jump in opioid overdoses between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017, according to NPR. The largest increase in overdoses occurred in the Midwest, which saw a 69.7 percent increase. In Wisconsin, opioid overdoses increased 109 percent. The smallest increase occurred in the Southeast, which saw a 14 percent increase. The findings come from a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “We have an emergency on our hands,” said acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat. “The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating. We saw, sadly, that in every region, in every age group of adults, in both men and women, overdoses from opioids are increasing.” Schuchat noted the report could underestimate the total number of overdoses, because many people who overdose do not end up in the emergency room.

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Increase in Opioid Overdoses Leads to Rise in Organ Donations


The increase in fatal opioid overdoses has led to a rise in organ donations, according to CNN. The United Network for Organ sharing, which manages the nation’s organ transplant network, says early data indicates a record number of deceased organ donors in 2017, for the fifth year in a row. There were more than 10,000 deceased organ donors last year—a 3 percent increase from 2016. More than 1,300 of those donors died from drug overdoses. “About 40 percent of the increase (in the past five years) tracks back to the drug intoxication issue,” said Dr. David Klassen, the network’s Chief Medical Officer. In the past five years, the number of donors who died of drug overdoses increased 144 percent, while the number of deceased organ donors overall rose 24 percent. Klassen said people who died of overdoses are usually good candidates for organ donation. “They tend to be younger and tend...

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Rise in Opioid Deaths Contributes to Reduction in U.S. Life Expectancy


A new government report finds life expectancy in the United States decreased for the second consecutive year in 2016, in part due to an increase in fatal opioid overdoses. Until recently, life expectancy was rising in the United States, according to NPR. Life expectancy fell from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.7 in 2015 to 78.6 in 2016. “For any individual, that’s not a whole lot. But when you’re talking about it in terms of a population, you’re talking about a significant number of potential lives that aren’t being lived,” said Robert Anderson, Chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics. “I’m not prone to dramatic statements. But I think we should be really alarmed. The drug overdose problem is a public health problem, and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it.”

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60 Percent of People Who Die From Opioid Overdose Suffer Chronic Pain


A study of people who die from opioid overdoses found just over 60 percent suffer from chronic pain, HealthDay reports. Many also struggle with anxiety or depression, the researchers report in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The study included medical records of more than 13,000 adults who died from an opioid overdose between 2001 and 2007. “The frequent occurrence of treated chronic pain and mental health conditions among overdose decedents underscores the importance of offering substance use treatment services in clinics that treat patients with chronic pain and mental health problems,” said lead investigator Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University Medical Center.

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Patients Treated with Naloxone Continue to be at High Risk of Overdose: Study


A new study finds 10 percent of people saved by the opioid overdose antidote naloxone die within a year of treatment. “Patients who survive opioid overdoses are by no means ‘out of the woods,'” lead study author Scott Weiner, MD, Director of the Brigham Comprehensive Opioid Response and Education Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a news release. “These patients continue to be at high-risk for overdose and should be connected with additional resources such as counseling, treatment and buprenorphine.” The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians, found half of patients who died within a year of naloxone treatment died within one month of treatment, HealthDay reports.

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ICUs See Sharp Increase in Opioid Overdose-Related Admissions


Intensive care units have seen a rapid increase in the number of admissions related to opioid overdoses, according to a new study. Admissions jumped 34 percent over seven years. Between 2009 and 2015, opioid deaths in the ICU almost doubled. “This study tells us that the opioid epidemic has made people sicker and killed more people, in spite of all the care we can provide in the ICU, including mechanical ventilation, acute dialysis, life support and round-the-clock care,” study lead author Dr. Jennifer Stevens of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston said in a news release. The study found the average cost of care per ICU overdose admission rose 58 percent between 2009 and 2015, to more than $92,000, HealthDay reports. The study appears in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

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Express Scripts Sues Maker of Injectable Naloxone


The prescription management company Express Scripts is suing the maker of the injectable naloxone drug Evzio. The price of the drug, which reverses opioid overdoses, quintupled last year. Express Scripts claims it is owed more than $14.5 million in fees and rebates related to Evzio, which is made by the drug company Kaléo. Evzio is no longer on Express Scripts’ preferred drug list, The New York Times reports. Kaléo said the price increase was meant to cover the cost of a new patient-assistance program that decreases the out-of-pocket costs for patients who cannot afford the drug. The company covers all out-of-pocket costs for patients with private insurance. For uninsured patients making less than $100,000 per year, the company offers Evzio at no cost. Critics say these programs increase the price of drugs because they leave insurance companies to pay most of the costs, particularly when a less expensive version is available....

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Colleges Addressing Opioid Crisis With Naloxone and Recovery Programs


Colleges are addressing the opioid crisis by distributing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone and adding on-campus recovery programs, The Wall Street Journal reports. Students have died from opioid overdoses at many campuses, including Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina; Washington State University and Columbus State Community College in Ohio. Adapt Pharma announced last month it would offer 40,000 free doses of its brand of naloxone, called Narcan, to colleges nationwide. So far 60 schools have contacted the company about their offer. The University of Texas at Austin stocks naloxone at the front desk of residence halls, and Idaho State University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania recently offered naloxone training. Campus Police at the State University of New York at Geneseo have been carrying naloxone since 2014.

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Free Doses of Naloxone for College Students Overdosing on Heroin and Other Opioids

Free Doses of Naloxone for College Students Overdosing on Heroin and Other Opioids

Colleges will be able to get several free doses of a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, a sign of the widening impact of the deadly epidemic and increased efforts to combat it. The Clinton Foundation and Adapt Pharma are working together to give colleges 40,000 doses of NARCAN nasal spray, the only FDA-approved nasal spray. It is designed to be simple enough to administer that people without medical training can provide a potentially lifesaving dose. More than 33,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exceeding the number killed by guns for the first time. “The program has three goals: education, awareness and expansion of naloxone,” said Mike Kelly, the U.S. president of Adapt Pharma. “There’s a stigma about the disease and getting people to talk about it in an open forum, in schools, is a good place to start....

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Almost 30 Percent of Fatal Opioid Overdoses Also Involve Benzodiazepines

Almost 30 Percent of Fatal Opioid Overdoses Also Involve Benzodiazepines

Nearly 30 percent of fatal opioid overdoses also involve benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Valium or Klonopin, researchers at Stanford University have found. “It’s not news that this combination is not a good one, but despite being well known, it’s gone up over time, and more people are ending up in the hospital because of it,” lead researcher Dr. Eric Sun said. “Patients and doctors really need to think twice about this combination.” The findings come from a study of data from more than 300,000 patients who were prescribed a narcotic painkiller between 2001 and 2013, HealthDay reports. The researchers report in BMJ that 9 percent of those patients also had prescriptions for benzodiazepines in 2001. By 2013, that had risen to 17 percent. The findings raise the possibility that some of the increase in opioid-related deaths might be caused by increases in concurrent benzodiazepine/opioid use, the researchers wrote.

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