February 4th, 2016

According to a recent study led by Dr. Marc LaRochelle of Boston Medical Center, “The vast majority of people who overdose on their prescribed pain killers continue to receive them from their doctors.” The study reviewed medical claims of 2,848 patients pulled from a national database enrolled in commercial insurance programs for prescribing patterns following non-fatal overdose and found patient continued to be prescribed opioids after the overdose 91% of the time. Of those patients, 70 percent continued receiving opioid prescriptions from the same doctor they did before overdosing.

The study found patients who continued taking high dosages were twice as likely to have a second overdose within two years compared to those who were no longer prescribed opioids.

“The intent of this study is not to point fingers, but rather use the results to motivate physicians, policy makers and researchers to improve how we identify and treat patients at risk of opioid-related harms before they occur,”
LaRochelle said.
The full citation: Larochelle MR, Liebschutz JM, Zhang F, Ross-Degnan D, Wharam JF. Opioid Prescribing After Nonfatal Overdose and Association With Repeated Overdose: A Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Jan 5;164(1):1-9. doi: 10.7326/M15-0038. Epub 2015 Dec 29.
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