Monday, September 10, 2012

PubMed Update: A Year in Overdose

Here is a summary of our first year of PubMed updates. This list is NOT comprehensive and focuses on opioids at the expense of stimulant issues. There are some excellent papers not listed in the PubMed database (e.g. a couple of great papers out of Scotland we’ve discussed here and many conference abstracts).

So … there were an impressive 81 papers! Basic epidemiology and opioid analgesics dominate, but the list is quite diverse. I’ve roughly categorized papers, but many would fit into multiple categories, and I have not updated the comments …


1) Drug overdose deaths --- Florida, 2003-2009
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011 Jul 8; 60(26):869-72
Comments: Again, oxycodone has arisen as a major source of overdose mortality. The use characteristics that lead to mortality, however, remain unexplained.

Bohnert AS, Tracy M, Galea S. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011 Aug 10.
Comment: Another analysis from a non-fatal overdose survey in Harlem and the South Bronx. There have been some concerning results in terms of witness management of overdose from this study. We know that those who have overdosed are at higher risk of overdose and from a 2005 analysis also know that they are less likely to contact emergency medical services when they witness an overdose. Now we know that these findings apply to those who witness multiple overdoses as well (they appear to be almost the same population). Authors propose that prior negative experiences with medical service might dissuade contact at future overdoses, although perhaps successful prior lay resuscitation efforts also discourage calling for help.

Leach D, Oliver P. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2011 Aug 12. [Epub ahead of print]
Comment: I don’t have access to the full article and hope that naloxone distribution is discussed as one of the options.

Hser Y, Kagihara J, Huang D, Evans E, Messina N. Addiction. 2011 Aug 10
Comment: Mortality among pregnant or parenting women seeking substance abuse treatment (including heroin, cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine) over ten years was 8.4x higher than the general population, the largest portion of which was from overdose (29%). The authors do not breakdown overdose by primary drug problem (i.e. can’t tell if most of the overdoses were among heroin users or if they were more evenly distributed).

Webster LR, Cochella S, Dasgupta N, Fakata KL, Fine PG, Fishman SM, Grey T, Johnson EM, Lee LK, Passik SD, Peppin J, Porucznik CA, Ray A, Schnoll SH, Stieg RL, Wakeland W.
Pain Med. 2011 Jun;12 Suppl 2:S26-35.
Comment: A review of structural and individual factors related to opioid overdose increases in the U.S.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pubmed Update August 2012

Just one paper to talk about, but I think it warrants discussion.

Angst MS, Lazzeroni LC, Phillips NG, Drover DR, Tingle M, Ray A, Swan GE, Clark JD.
Anesthesiology. 2012 Jul;117(1):22-37.

Comment: This is a twin study to look at the genetic contribution to opioid effects. I would recommend perusing the full article (which may be available here) if you work with opioid users, as the results are really intriguing. Directly relevant to overdose is the finding that 30% of the respiratory depression effect is genetic. Furthermore, respiratory depression increases with age (that is, older opioid users tolerate higher CO2 concentrations), more so among men.

I take two messages from this paper:
1) We've known for years that people who overdose are highly likely to overdose again, but we don't understand all of the reasons why. Is it behavioral (e.g. polydrug use, short stints of abstinence) or physiologic (e.g. lung disease, liver disease, etc)? Now we know that part of the reason is genetic.

2) While I still suspect there are ways to reduce the risk of overdose by changing patterns of drug use, some of that risk is genetic and unlikely to be affected by education.