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The current issue of Annals of Internal Medicine examines patterns of potential opioid misuse that are associated with subsequent adverse outcomes nationally.
Researchers analyzed a 5% sample of Medicare beneficiaries who had an opioid prescription, without a cancer diagnosis. Specifically the sought to correlate a diagnosis of opioid overdose with other measures of opioid misuse including:
- drug quantity,
- overlapping prescriptions,
- use of multiple prescribers or pharmacies, or
- use of out-of-state prescribers or pharmacies.
Misuse measures were seen in 0.6% to 8.5% of beneficiaries.
Subsequent opioid overdose was positively associated with successively greater numbers of prescribers or pharmacies or higher opioid quantities during the index period. Patients with increasing prescribers had a greater risk of opioid overdose.
These misuse measures should be a red flag for those at risk for opioid overdose and death.