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Some Drug Abusers Use Relatives to ‘Opioid Shop’

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — People who are thwarted in their attempts to “shop around” for prescription opioid painkillers at doctors’ offices and pharmacies may try to get the drugs via relatives as a last resort, researchers report.

Some people who misuse opioids go to numerous prescribers and fill prescriptions at multiple pharmacies to avoid detection. But states are cracking down on such “shopping,” forcing them to find other ways of getting the drugs.

The new study suggests some try to get opioids from family members who are prescribed the painkillers. University of Michigan researchers said it’s the first study to examine doctor and pharmacy shopping within families.

For every 200 U.S. patients prescribed opioids in 2016, one had a family member who shopped for opioids, the study found.

The findings underscore the need to reduce the number of opioids available for such diversion by limiting unnecessary prescribing, according to authors of the study published May 10 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The researchers analyzed 1.4 million opioid prescriptions in 2016 for 554,000 people and relatives covered under the same private family insurance plan.

Of those prescriptions, 0.6% (1 out of 167) were filled by a patient with a family member who met the criteria for opioid shopping — they had received prescriptions from four or more sources and filled them at four or more pharmacies in the past year.

That percentage means that 1.2 million of the 210 million opioid prescriptions in the United States in 2016 may have been dispensed to people who had family members who shopped for opioids, said lead author Dr. Kao-Ping Chua and colleagues.

When researchers defined opioid shopping as getting prescriptions from at least three sources and filling them at three or more pharmacies, 1.9% of opioid prescriptions met that criteria.

For opioid prescriptions to children, 0.2% were filled when the child, doctor and pharmacy met opioid shopping criteria, the study found.

And 0.7% of opioid prescriptions to kids went to those with a family member who met pharmacy shopping criteria. Though researchers can’t be sure from their data, they suspect the adults were often the children’s parents.

Continued

“This apparent doctor and pharmacy shopping behavior in children is likely driven by an adult family member, since children can’t obtain opioid prescriptions from multiple prescribers and fill them at multiple pharmacies on their own,” Chua said in a university news release. He’s a pediatrician and health care researcher at Michigan.

To prevent people who shop for opioids from misusing family members’ medicine, Chua said doctors should not prescribe more doses than patients need, and should order over-the-counter painkillers when possible.

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Sources

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, May 10, 2019

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Many Drug Abusers Use Family Members to ‘Opioid Shop’

FRIDAY, May 10, 2019 — People who are thwarted in their attempts to “shop around” for prescription opioid painkillers at doctors’ offices and pharmacies may try to get the drugs via relatives as a last resort, researchers report.

Some people who misuse opioids go to numerous prescribers and fill prescriptions at multiple pharmacies to avoid detection. But states are cracking down on such “shopping,” forcing them to find other ways of getting the drugs.

The new study suggests some try to get opioids from family members who are prescribed the painkillers. University of Michigan researchers said it’s the first study to examine doctor and pharmacy shopping within families.

For every 200 U.S. patients prescribed opioids in 2016, one had a family member who shopped for opioids, the study found.

The findings underscore the need to reduce the number of opioids available for such diversion by limiting unnecessary prescribing, according to authors of the study published May 10 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The researchers analyzed 1.4 million opioid prescriptions in 2016 for 554,000 people and relatives covered under the same private family insurance plan.

Of those prescriptions, 0.6% (1 out of 167) were filled by a patient with a family member who met the criteria for opioid shopping — they had received prescriptions from four or more sources and filled them at four or more pharmacies in the past year.

That percentage means that 1.2 million of the 210 million opioid prescriptions in the United States in 2016 may have been dispensed to people who had family members who shopped for opioids, said lead author Dr. Kao-Ping Chua and colleagues.

When researchers defined opioid shopping as getting prescriptions from at least three sources and filling them at three or more pharmacies, 1.9% of opioid prescriptions met that criteria.

For opioid prescriptions to children, 0.2% were filled when the child, doctor and pharmacy met opioid shopping criteria, the study found.

And 0.7% of opioid prescriptions to kids went to those with a family member who met pharmacy shopping criteria. Though researchers can’t be sure from their data, they suspect the adults were often the children’s parents.

“This apparent doctor and pharmacy shopping behavior in children is likely driven by an adult family member, since children can’t obtain opioid prescriptions from multiple prescribers and fill them at multiple pharmacies on their own,” Chua said in a university news release. He’s a pediatrician and health care researcher at Michigan.

To prevent people who shop for opioids from misusing family members’ medicine, Chua said doctors should not prescribe more doses than patients need, and should order over-the-counter painkillers when possible.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on prescription opioids.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: May 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Many Young Drug Abusers Not Tested for Hepatitis C, Study Finds

FRIDAY, Oct. 5, 2018 — Too few teens and young adults with an opioid addiction are tested for hepatitis C, even though they’re at high risk for the liver infection, researchers say.

In 2016, hepatitis C killed more than 18,000 Americans, making it the most common cause of death from a reportable infectious disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re missing an opportunity to identify and treat young people who are at risk for this deadly infection,” said Dr. Rachel Epstein, lead author of the new study.

“Screening for [opioid addiction] and other drug use, and then testing for hepatitis C in those at high risk, can help us do a better job of eliminating this serious infection, especially now that very effective hepatitis C medications are approved for teenagers,” said Epstein, a postgraduate research fellow at Boston Medical Center.

Her team studied the electronic medical records of more than 269,100 teens and young adults, ages 13 to 21. Between 2012 and 2017, the patients had visited one of 57 federally qualified health centers that provide health care to underserved communities in 19 states.

Of the 875 people with diagnosed opioid addiction, only 36 percent were tested for hepatitis C. Of those, 11 percent had been exposed to hepatitis C and almost 7 percent had evidence of chronic hepatitis C infection, the researchers found.

Overall, 2.5 percent, or more than 6,800 teens and young adults who visited the health centers, were tested for hepatitis C. Of those, 122 tested positive for it. Those most likely to be tested were black, had any substance use disorder, and were ages 19 to 21.

The study was presented Thursday at IDWeek, a meeting of infectious disease specialists, in San Francisco.

Injection drug users who share needles often spread hepatitis C. It’s possible that doctors don’t test suspected opioid abusers because the drugs are available in pill form, which doesn’t increase the risk of hepatitis C. However, studies show many youths who misuse prescription opioid pills eventually begin injecting drugs, the researchers noted.

Current guidelines only recommend hepatitis C testing for known injection drug users.

“The issue is complicated by the fact that not enough at-risk youth are screened for opioid or other drug use for a variety of reasons, including lack of time, comfort level between clinician and patient, and privacy and stigma concerns,” Epstein said in a meeting news release.

“And even when drug use is identified, there’s a belief that youth are less likely to test positive for hepatitis C, which isn’t necessarily the case as we show in our study. Clearly, this is an overlooked group that is at high risk,” she concluded.

Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on hepatitis C.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2018

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

A Billion Smokers, 240 Million Alcohol Abusers Worldwide: Study


A Billion Smokers, 240 Million Alcohol Abusers

Global tally finds adult health toll from legal substances may exceed that from illicit drugs

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 19, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Tobacco and alcohol take a big toll on the health of people around the world, a new global survey shows.

The research suggests that about a billion people — more than 20 percent of the world’s adult population — smoke, and 240 million, or almost 5 percent, suffer from alcoholism or a related disorder.

The study, led by Linda Gowing, an associate professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, reveals a much larger negative impact from alcohol use than from illegal drugs. In fact, the report estimates that alcohol’s impact in terms of disability is more than three times higher.

“The most striking thing to emerge is how much more damage is done to society by legal drugs than illegal ones,” study co-author Robert West, editor-in-chief of the journal Addiction, said in a journal news release. The study was published in the journal recently.

The report found that the heaviest drinkers in the world are in Eastern Europe, where an estimated 3.7 gallons of alcohol are consumed per person, on average, per year.

Northern Europe isn’t far behind, the study found, while people in Central, Southern and Western Asia drink the least, averaging about a half-gallon of alcohol annually.

Smoking is most common in Eastern Europe and the Oceania region (30 percent of adults) and Western Europe (20 percent). North and Central America/Caribbean use injection drugs the most, with the lowest rate in Northern Europe.

Gowing’s team noted that getting reliable statistics on illicit drugs is much tougher, but they estimate that about 15 million people worldwide inject illicit drugs such as heroin.

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