Combating escalating harms associated with pharmaceutical opioid use in Australia: the POPPY II study protocol.
ABSTRACT: Opioid prescribing has increased 15-fold in Australia in the past two decades, alongside increases in a range of opioid-related harms such as opioid dependence and overdose. However, despite concerns about increasing opioid use, extramedical use and harms, there is a lack of population-level evidence about the drivers of long-term prescribed opioid use, dependence, overdose and other harms. We will form a cohort of all adult residents in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, who initiated prescribed opioids from 2002 using Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme dispensing records. This cohort will be linked to a wide range of other datasets containing information on sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, health service use and adverse outcomes (eg, opioid dependence and non-fatal and fatal overdose). Analyses will initially examine patterns and predictors of prescribed opioid use and then apply regression and survival analysis to quantify the risks and risk factors of adverse outcomes associated with prescribed opioid use. This study has received full ethical approval from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Ethics Committee, the NSW Population and Health Services Research Committee and the ACT Health Human Research Ethics Committee. This will be the largest postmarketing surveillance study of prescribed opioids undertaken in Australia, linking exposure and outcomes and examining risk factors for adverse outcomes of prescribed opioids. As such, this work has important translational promise, with direct relevance to regulatory authorities and agencies worldwide. Project findings will be disseminated at scientific conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. We will also conduct targeted dissemination with policy makers, professional bodies and peak bodies in the pain, medicine and addiction fields through stakeholder workshops and advisory groups. Results will be reported in accordance with the REporting of studies Conducted using Observational Routinely collected Data (RECORD) Statement.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Opioid prescribing is increasing in many countries. In Australia, there is limited research on patterns of prescribing and access, or the outcomes associated with this use. The aim of this research programme is to use national dispensing data to estimate opioid use and costs, including problematic or extramedical use in the Australian population. METHODS AND ANALYSIS:In a cohort of persons dispensed at least one opioid in 2013, we will estimate monthly utilisation and costs of prescribed opioids, overall and according to individual opioid formulations and strengths. In a cohort of new opioid users, commencing therapy between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2013, we will examine patterns of opioid use including initiation of therapy, duration of treatment and concomitant use of opioids and other prescribed medicines. We will also examine patterns of extramedical opioid use based on indicators including excess dosing, use of more than one opioid concomitantly, doctor/pharmacy shopping and accelerated time to prescription refill. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:This protocol was approved by the NSW Population and Health Services Ethics Committee (March 2014) and data access approved by the Department of Human Services External Review Evaluation Committee (June 2014). This will be one of the first comprehensive Australian studies with the capability to investigate individual patterns of use and track extramedical use. In the first instance our analysis will be based on 5?years of dispensing data but will be expanded with ongoing annual data updates. This research has the capability to contribute significantly to pharmaceutical policy within Australia and globally. In particular, the trajectory of extramedical prescription-opioid use has been the subject of limited research to date. The results of this research will be published widely in general medical, pharmacoepidemiology, addiction and psychiatry journals.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Internationally, there is concern about the increased prescribing of pharmaceutical opioids for chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP). In part, this is related to limited knowledge about the long-term benefits and outcomes of opioid use for CNCP. There has also been increased injection of some pharmaceutical opioids by people who inject drugs, and for some patients, the development of problematic and/or dependent use. To date, much of the research on the use of pharmaceutical opioids among people with CNCP, have been clinical trials that have excluded patients with complex needs, and have been of limited duration (i.e. fewer than 12 weeks). The Pain and Opioids In Treatment (POINT) study is unique study that aims to: 1) examine patterns of opioid use in a cohort of patients prescribed opioids for CNCP; 2) examine demographic and clinical predictors of adverse events, including opioid abuse or dependence, medication diversion, other drug use, and overdose; and 3) identify factors predicting poor pain relief and other outcomes. METHODS/DESIGN: The POINT cohort comprises around 1,500 people across Australia prescribed pharmaceutical opioids for CNCP. Participants will be followed-up at four time points over a two year period. POINT will collect information on demographics, physical and medication use history, pain, mental health, drug and alcohol use, non-adherence, medication diversion, sleep, and quality of life. Data linkage will provide information on medications and services from Medicare (Australia's national health care scheme). Data on those who receive opioid substitution therapy, and on mortality, will be linked. DISCUSSION: This study will rigorously examine prescription opioid use among CNCP patients, and examine its relationship to important health outcomes. The extent to which opioids for chronic pain is associated with pain reduction, quality of life, mental and physical health, aberrant medication behavior and substance use disorders will be extensively examined. Improved understanding of the longer-term outcomes of chronic opioid therapy will direct community-based interventions and health policy in Australia and internationally. The results of this study will assist clinicians to better identify those patients who are at risk of adverse outcomes and who therefore require alternative treatment strategies.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In order to address the opioid crisis in North America, many regions have adopted preventative strategies, such as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). PDMPs aim to increase patient safety by certifying that opioids are prescribed in appropriate quantities. We aimed to synthesize the literature on changes in opioid-related harms and consequences, an important measure of PDMP effectiveness.<h4>Methods</h4>We completed a systematic review. We conducted a narrative synthesis of opioid-related harms and consequences from PDMP implementation. Outcomes were grouped into categories by theme: opioid dependence, opioid-related care outcomes, opioid-related adverse events, and opioid-related legal and crime outcomes.<h4>Results</h4>We included a total of 22 studies (49 PDMPs) in our review. Two studies reported on illicit and problematic use but found no significant associations with PDMP status. Eight studies examined the association between PDMP status and opioid-related care outcomes, of which two found that treatment admissions for prescriptions opioids were lower in states with PDMP programs (p?<?0.05). Of the thirteen studies that reported on opioid-related adverse events, two found significant (p?<?0.001 and p?<?0.05) but conflicting results with one finding a decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths after PDMP implementation and the other an increase. Lastly, two studies found no statistically significant association between PDMP status and opioid-related legal and crime outcomes (crime rates, identification of potential dealers, and diversion).<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our study found limited evidence to support overall associations between PDMPs and reductions in opioid-related consequences. However, this should not detract from the value of PDMPs' larger role of improving opioid prescribing.
Project description:We summarise the evidence for medicinal uses of opioids, harms related to the extramedical use of, and dependence on, these drugs, and a wide range of interventions used to address these harms. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study estimated that in 2017, 40·5 million people were dependent on opioids (95% uncertainty interval 34·3-47·9 million) and 109?500 people (105?800-113?600) died from opioid overdose. Opioid agonist treatment (OAT) can be highly effective in reducing illicit opioid use and improving multiple health and social outcomes-eg, by reducing overall mortality and key causes of death, including overdose, suicide, HIV, hepatitis C virus, and other injuries. Mathematical modelling suggests that scaling up the use of OAT and retaining people in treatment, including in prison, could avert a median of 7·7% of deaths in Kentucky, 10·7% in Kiev, and 25·9% in Tehran over 20 years (compared with no OAT), with the greater effects in Tehran and Kiev being due to reductions in HIV mortality, given the higher prevalence of HIV among people who inject drugs in those settings. Other interventions have varied evidence for effectiveness and patient acceptability, and typically affect a narrower set of outcomes than OAT does. Other effective interventions focus on preventing harm related to opioids. Despite strong evidence for the effectiveness of a range of interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of people who are dependent on opioids, coverage is low, even in high-income countries. Treatment quality might be less than desirable, and considerable harm might be caused to individuals, society, and the economy by the criminalisation of extramedical opioid use and dependence. Alternative policy frameworks are recommended that adopt an approach based on human rights and public health, do not make drug use a criminal behaviour, and seek to reduce drug-related harm at the population level.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND AIMS:While prescribed and illicit opioid use are primary drivers of the national surges in overdose deaths, opioid overdose deaths in which stimulants are also present are increasing in the U.S. We determined the social determinants and sociodemographic factors associated with opioid-only versus polysubstance opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts. Particular attention was focused on the role of stimulants in opioid overdose deaths. METHODS:We analyzed all opioid-related overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015 in an individually-linked population database in Massachusetts. We used linked postmortem toxicology data to identify drugs present at the time of death. We constructed a multinomial logistic regression model to identify factors associated with three mutually exclusive overdose death groups based on toxicological results: opioid-related deaths with (1) opioids only present, (2) opioids and other substances not including stimulants, and (3) opioids and stimulants with or without other substances. RESULTS:Between 2014 and 2015, there were 2,244 opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts that had accompanying toxicology results. Toxicology reports indicated that 17% had opioids only, 36% had opioids plus stimulants, and 46% had opioids plus another non-stimulant substance. Persons older than 24 years, non-rural residents, those with comorbid mental illness, non-Hispanic black residents, and persons with recent homelessness were more likely than their counterparts to die with opioids and stimulants than opioids alone. CONCLUSIONS:Polysubstance opioid overdose is increasingly common in the US. Addressing modifiable social determinants of health, including barriers to mental health services and homelessness, is important to reduce polysubstance use and overdose deaths.
Project description:Importance:Family members are cited as a common source of prescription opioids used for nonmedical reasons. However, the overdose risk associated with exposure to opioids prescribed to family members among adolescents and young adults is not well established. Objective:To assess the association of opioids prescribed to family members with pharmaceutical opioid overdose among youth. Design, Setting, and Participants:This cohort study included 45?145 family units with a total of 72?040 adolescents and young adults aged 11 to 26 years enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente Colorado health plan in 2006 and observed through June 2018. Exposures:Opioid prescriptions and dosage dispensed to family members and youth in the past month. Main Outcomes and Measures:Fatal pharmaceutical opioid overdoses identified in vital records and nonfatal pharmaceutical opioid overdoses identified in emergency department and inpatient settings. Time to first overdose was modeled using Cox regression. Results:The study population consisted of 72?040 adolescents and young adults (mean [SD] age across follow-up, 19.3 [3.7] years; 36?646 [50.9%] girls and women) nested in 45?145 family units. Youth were more commonly exposed to prescription opioids dispensed to a family member than through their own prescriptions. During follow-up, 26?284 youth (36.5%) filled at least 1 opioid prescription, and 47?461 youth (65.9%) had at least 1 family member with a prescription. Exposure to family members with opioid prescriptions in the past month was associated with increased risk of pharmaceutical opioid overdose (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 2.17; 95% CI, 1.24-3.79) independent of opioids prescribed to youth (aHR, 6.62; 95% CI, 3.39-12.91). Concurrent exposure to opioid prescriptions from youth and family members was associated with substantially increased overdose risk (aHR, 12.99; 95% CI, 5.08-33.25). High dosage of total morphine milligram equivalents (MME) prescribed to family members in the past month was associated with youth overdose (0 MME vs >0 to <200 MME: aHR, 1.39; 95% CI, 0.51-3.81; 0 MME vs 200 to <600 MME: aHR, 1.49; 95% CI, 0.59-3.77; 0 MME vs ?600 MME: aHR, 2.93; 95% CI, 1.55-5.56). Conclusions and Relevance:In this study of youth linked to family members, exposure to family members' prescribed opioids was associated with increased risk of pharmaceutical opioid overdose, independent of opioids prescribed to youth. Further interventions targeting youth and families are needed, including counseling patients about the risks of opioids to youth in their families.
Project description:BACKGROUND:With governments' increasing efforts to curb opioid prescription use and limit dose below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended threshold of 90 morphine milligram equivalents per day, little is known about prescription opioid patterns preceding opioid use disorder (OUD) or overdose. This study aimed to determine prescribed opioid fills and dose trajectories in the year before an incident OUD or overdose diagnosis using a 2005-2016 commercial healthcare database. METHODS AND FINDINGS:This cross-sectional study identified individuals aged 18 to 64 years with incident OUD or overdose in the United States. We measured the prevalence of opioid prescription fills and trajectories of opioid morphine equivalent dose (MED) prescribed during the 12-month period before the diagnosis. Of 227,038 adults with incident OUD or overdose, 33.1% were aged 18 to 30 years, 52.9% were males, and 85.0% were metropolitan residents. Half (50.5%) of the patients had a diagnosis of chronic pain, 32.7% had depression, and 20.3% had anxiety. Overall, 79,747 (35.1%) patients filled no opioid prescription in the 12 months before OUD or overdose diagnosis, with the proportion significantly increasing between 2006 and 2016 (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.86; 95% CI 1.79-1.93; P < 0.001). Patients without (versus with) prescribed opioids tended to be younger males and metropolitan and Northeast US residents. Of 145,609 patients who filled opioid prescriptions, 5 distinct prescribed daily dose trajectories preceding diagnosis emerged: consistent low dose (<3 mg MED, 34.6%), consistent moderate dose (20 mg MED, 27.3%), consistent high dose (150 mg MED, 15.0%), escalating dose (from <3 to 20 mg MED, 13.7%), and de-escalating dose (from 20 to <3mg MED, 9.4%). Overall, over two-thirds of patients with OUD or overdose with prescription opioids were prescribed a mean daily dose below 90 mg MED before diagnosis. Major limitations include the limited generalizability of the study findings and lack of information on out-of-pocket drug spending, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status of participants, which prevents analyses addressing these characteristics. CONCLUSIONS:In this study, we found that absence of opioid prescription fills in the year before incident OUD or overdose diagnosis was prevalent, and the majority of the patients received prescription opioid doses below the risk threshold of 90 mg MED. An increasing proportion of high-risk patients could be missed by current programs solely based on opioid prescribing and dispensing information in this new era of limited access to prescription opioids.
Project description:Long-acting opioids increase the risk of unintentional overdose deaths but also may increase mortality from cardiorespiratory and other causes.To compare all-cause mortality for patients with chronic noncancer pain who were prescribed either long-acting opioids or alternative medications for moderate to severe chronic pain.Retrospective cohort study between 1999 and 2012 of Tennessee Medicaid patients with chronic noncancer pain and no evidence of palliative or end-of-life care.Propensity score-matched new episodes of prescribed therapy for long-acting opioids or either analgesic anticonvulsants or low-dose cyclic antidepressants (control medications).Total and cause-specific mortality as determined from death certificates. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and risk differences (difference in incidence of death) were calculated for long-acting opioid therapy vs control medication.There were 22,912 new episodes of prescribed therapy for both long-acting opioids and control medications (mean [SD] age, 48  years; 60% women). The long-acting opioid group was followed up for a mean 176 days and had 185 deaths and the control treatment group was followed up for a mean 128 days and had 87 deaths. The HR for total mortality was 1.64 (95% CI, 1.26-2.12) with a risk difference of 68.5 excess deaths (95% CI, 28.2-120.7) per 10,000 person-years. Increased risk was due to out-of-hospital deaths (154 long-acting opioid, 60 control deaths; HR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.40-2.58; risk difference, 67.1; 95% CI, 30.1-117.3) excess deaths per 10,000 person-years. For out-of-hospital deaths other than unintentional overdose (120 long-acting opioid, 53 control deaths), the HR was 1.72 (95% CI, 1.24-2.39) with a risk difference of 47.4 excess deaths (95% CI, 15.7-91.4) per 10,000 person-years. The HR for cardiovascular deaths (79 long-acting opioid, 36 control deaths) was 1.65 (95% CI, 1.10-2.46) with a risk difference of 28.9 excess deaths (95% CI, 4.6-65.3) per 10,000 person-years. The HR during the first 30 days of therapy (53 long-acting opioid, 13 control deaths) was 4.16 (95% CI, 2.27-7.63) with a risk difference of 200 excess deaths (95% CI, 80-420) per 10,000 person-years.Prescription of long-acting opioids for chronic noncancer pain, compared with anticonvulsants or cyclic antidepressants, was associated with a significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality, including deaths from causes other than overdose, with a modest absolute risk difference. These findings should be considered when evaluating harms and benefits of treatment.
Project description:Recently, more than 63% of the 52,404 drug overdose deaths in the United States involved heroin and opioid pain medications. More than 30% of opioid-related deaths also involved benzodiazepines. Previous studies examining the extent of concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine use have relied on prescription data. To gain fuller insight into the extent of the concurrent use problem, we analyzed opioid and benzodiazepine prescription patterns in the context of drug testing results.All specimens from patients that were prescribed at least 1 drug and were tested for both opioids and benzodiazepines by a national reference laboratory were included. This resulted in an analytical set of 231,228 sets of test results from 144,535 patients with diverse demographic factors being tested in a variety of health care settings.Laboratory test results indicated concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines in over 25% of patients. In 52% of test results with evidence of concurrent use, 1 drug class was prescribed and the other was non-prescribed. Nearly 1 in 5 specimens (19%) testing positive for prescribed opioids also tested positive for non-prescribed benzodiazepines. Over 15% of specimens with prescribed benzodiazepines also demonstrated non-prescribed opioid use.The extent of concurrent use of benzodiazepines and opioids, particularly non-prescribed use, suggests the need for more effective clinician assessment and intervention. The results support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opioid prescribing guidelines that drug testing occur before and periodically throughout opioid use and suggest that this testing should be extended to patients prescribed benzodiazepines as well.
Project description:Background:Opioid use is common in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. However, safety of individual opioids and concomitant benzodiazepine use has not been studied. Objective:To study the epidemiology of opioid and concomitant benzodiazepine use in ESRD population. To study the clinical safety profile of individual opioids in patients on hemodialysis. Design:Retrospective analysis of the U.S. Renal Data System. A comprehensive review of the current literature was performed to update currently used opioid safety classification. Participants:ESRD patients ?18 years on hemodialysis who were enrolled in Medicare A and B and Part D between 2006 and 2012, excluding those with malignancy. Main Measures:Hospital admission with diagnosis of prescription opioid overdose within 30, 60, and 90 days of prescription; death due to opioid overdose. Results:Annually, the percentage of patients prescribed any opioid was 52.2%. Overall trend has been increasing except for a small dip in 2011, despite which the admissions due to opioid overdose have been rising. 30% of those who got a prescription for opioids also got a benzodiazepine prescription. 56.5% of these patients received both prescriptions within a week of each other. Benzodiazepine use increased the odds of being on opioids by 3.27 (CI 3.21-3.32) and increased the odds of hospitalization by 50%. Opioids considered safe such as fentanyl and methadone were associated with 3 and 6 folds higher odds of hospitalization within 30 days of prescription. Hydrocodone had the lowest odds ratio (1.9, CI 1.8-2.0). Conclusions:Concurrent benzodiazepine use is common and associated with higher risk of hospitalization due to opioid overdose. Possible opioid-associated hospital admission rate is 4-5 times bigger in ESRD population than general population. Current safety classification of opioids in these patients is misleading, and even drugs considered safe based on pharmacokinetic data are associated with moderate to very high risk of hospitalization. We propose a risk-stratified classification of opioids and suggest starting to use them in all ESRD patients.