HealthDay News – Naloxone prescribing has increased but is still very low among patients at risk for opioid overdose, according to a study recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Lewei (Allison) Lin, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues compared adults who received opioids and naloxone from January 2014 to June 2017 to those who received opioids without naloxone using a US-wide health insurance claims dataset. A total of 3963 opioid+naloxone and 19,815 opioid-only patients were matched based on gender, age, month/year of opioid fill, and number of opioid claims.

The researchers found that high opioid daily dosage (50 to <90 morphine milligram equivalents [MME] and ≥90 MME versus <50 MME: adjusted odds ratios, 2.43 and 3.94, respectively), receiving concurrent benzodiazepines (adjusted odds ratio, 1.27), and having a diagnosis of opioid use disorder (adjusted odds ratio, 1.56) were key factors associated with naloxone fills. There was an increase in the percentage of patients receiving naloxone, but by the last 6 months of the study period, less than 2% of patients in any of the key overdose risk factor groups received naloxone.

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“Increasing naloxone availability is one of the most promising interventions to reduce opioid overdose,” the authors write. “These findings suggest there is substantial further work needed to increase naloxone for patients at risk for opioid overdose.”

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One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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