Here is the May 2013 roundup with 7 papers and some extra kudos to the authors for important steps forward in data or practice.
Llorente J, Withey S, Rivero G, Cunningham M, Cooke A, Saxena K, McPherson J, Oldfield S, Dewey W, Bailey C, Kelly E, Henderson G.
Mol Pharmacol. 2013 May 28. [Epub ahead of print]
Comments: Intriguing analysis of ethanol and morphine, suggesting that alcohol may enhance the effects of morphine. Could this account for some of the risk of combining opioids with alcohol?
Moryl N, Pope J, Obbens E.
J Opioid Manag. 2013 Jan-Feb;9(1):29-34. doi: 10.5055/jom.2013.0144.
Comments: One of a handful of issues with methadone dosing that may have factored into the challenges encountered by providers and patients with this drug when used for pain.
3) Benzodiazepine use during buprenorphine treatment for opioid dependence: Clinical and safety outcomes.
Schuman-Olivier Z, Hoeppner BB, Weiss RD, Borodovsky J, Shaffer HJ, Albanese MJ.
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 May 17. doi:pii: S0376-8716(13)00133-6. 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.04.006. [Epub ahead of print]
Comments: For patients on any opioid medications, benzodiazepines are associated with an increased risk of overdose. This study of 328 buprenorphine maintenance patients didn’t find an association with benzodiazepine prescriptions and overdose, but did find an association with more frequent emergency department visits and injury-related ED visits. We may never learn if benzodiazepines are causal in this pathway or merely a marker, but these data do contribute to the overall concern.
4) The relationship between age and risky injecting behaviours among a sample of Australian people who inject drugs.
Horyniak D, Dietze P, Degenhardt L, Higgs P, McIlwraith F, Alati R, Bruno R, Lenton S, Burns L.
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 May 9. doi:pii: S0376-8716(13)00116-6. 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.03.021. [Epub ahead of print]
Comments: More excellent work from this team. I particularly appreciate the estimate of the reduction in overdose risk with age. In a mathematical model of overdose, we estimated a 50% reduction in the risk of overdose over 10 years of use, whereas this paper suggests the figure is closer to 20% - data that will be very helpful in future iterations.
Bowman S, Eiserman J, Beletsky L, Stancliff S, Bruce RD.
Am J Med. 2013 May 8. doi:pii: S0002-9343(13)00138-1. 10.1016/j.amjmed.2012.11.031. [Epub ahead of print]
Comments: Congratulations to this team on producing what I think are the first primary care guidelines in the scientific literature recommending overdose prevention and naloxone for at-risk patients.
6) Acute Pain Control Challenges with Buprenorphine/Naloxone Therapy in a Patient with Compartment Syndrome Secondary to McArdle's Disease: A Case Report and Review.
McCormick Z, Chu SK, Chang-Chien GC, Joseph P.
Pain Med. 2013 May 3. doi: 10.1111/pme.12135. [Epub ahead of print]
Comments: Less an overdose article per se, but a paper that pays attention to the overdose issue when titrating opioids.
7) Barriers to medical provider support for prescription naloxone as overdose antidote for lay responders.
Green TC, Bowman SE, Zaller ND, Ray M, Case P, Heimer R.
Subst Use Misuse. 2013 May;48(7):558-67. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2013.787099.
Comments: A qualitative look at providers feelings about providing naloxone to “drug users” and, separately, to “pain patients.” This is a great and useful analysis – and honestly surprisingly positive across the board. The major concern raised seemed to be that naloxone not be the only thing done to try to reduce overdose. This is a pretty dramatic shift in attitudes since earlier evaluations of provider opinion on lay naloxone (Beletsky et al 2007, Coffin et al 2003).