#1 Stanford model analyzes impact of policies on curbing opioid epidemic
A study paper published August 23, 2018 in the American Journal of Public Health by Stanford researchers introduces a mathematical model that they developed to analyze the impact of different policies to reduce opioid-related deaths.
According to the article posted in the Stanford school of medicine’s news center: The model includes data about prescriptions, addictions and overdoses in the United States. It can be used to consider “what if” scenarios similar to those that business leaders run through to project how changing product features or prices are likely to affect sales and profits, said Margaret Brandeau, PhD, the Coleman F. Fung Professor in the School of Engineering and the senior author of the study.
No single policy was found to be able to have significant impact on the opioid epidemic. However, the model predicts that,
#1 Increasing the availability of naloxone
# Cutting opioid prescriptions by 25 percent
# Expanding drug-treatment programs
could reduce opioid-related deaths by 6,000 over 10 years.
The model cautions that as prescription opioids are restricted, increased use of street heroin which is more potent agent that has been fueling increases in overdose deaths is an unfortunate consequence.
To read the Stanford news article click here.
#2 Study shows that limits on opioid prescribing backfires
A study published August 22, 2018 in JAMA Surgery titled “Association of Hydrocodone Schedule Change With Opioid Prescriptions Following Surgery” shows that rules to make it harder to refill prescriptions for hydrocodone made surgeons prescribe even more of the painkiller immediately after surgery.
The study was based on analyzing opioid prescriptions filled between January, 2012 and Octobe,r 2015 using insurance claims data from the Michigan Value Collaborative with data across 75 hospitals in Michigan.
It is speculated that surgeons were doing this to ensure their patients didn’t face a situation of running out of pain medications over a weekend and being unable to contact the office for help.
As a result, there were no significant differences in the amount of opoids filled in the 30-day postoperative period although refill rates decreased considerably.
T0 access the study click here.
#3 FDA announces initiative to develop indication-specific opioid prescribing guidelines
FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gotlieb, announced on August 22, 2018 that his organization has awarded a contract to NASEM (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) to advance the development of evidence-based, indication-specific guidelines to help guide appropriate prescribing of opioid analgesics.
Dr Gotlieb notes that this work complements the existing CDC guidelines, builds on that work to be indication-specific and would be based on prospectively gathered evidence drawn from evaluations of clinical practice and the treatment of pain.
He also noted that the work could potentially inform drug labelling.
To read the full statement click here.
#4 Synthetic fentanyl bill gets 50 state AGs approval and an ask to expedite
52 Attorneys General from the 50 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico signed a letter to Congress on August 23, 2018 urging “swift passage” of the Stopping Overdoses from Fentanyl Analogues Act, referred to as the SOFA Act. The act was introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. and Sen. Ron Johnson.
The bill helps eliminate a loophole that drug traffickers exploit by being allowed to distribute fentanyl analogs. The bill calls to make fentanyl analogs illegal as soon as they are manufactured. The house version of the bill (HR 4922) was introduced in February and has been sitting with the Subcommittee on Health while a senate version introduced in July was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.