Connect with us

General Medicine

Reduced the Number of Fatalities Brought on by Opioids May Result from Easier Access to Opioid Medications



According to a new Rutgers study, increasing access to prescription opioid painkillers may reduce opioid overdose deaths in the United States.

According to Grant Victor, lead author of the study that was published in the Journal of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment and an assistant professor in the Rutgers School of Social Work, “When access to prescription opioids is heavily restricted, people will seek out opioids that are unregulated. The opposite may also be true; our findings suggest that restoring easier access to opioid pain medications may protect against fatal overdoses.”

The opioid crisis in the United States has gone through several waves, each of which has resulted in an increasing number of fatalities. Wave one, which started during the 1990s, was related to overdose deaths on account of the abuse of opioid medications.

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), state-based initiatives that monitor controlled substance prescribing, were one policy implemented during the initial wave. Victor asserted that despite the fact that the policy made it more difficult to obtain prescription opioids and resulted in a decrease in prescribing rates, it had the unintended effect of encouraging people to use off-market opioids, thereby increasing the risk of accidental death.

This prompted wave two of the emergency, a surge in heroin-related deaths, starting around 2010, followed by wave three (which began in 2013), fueled by synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The researchers examined toxicology data, death records, and available PDMPs from 2,682 accidental overdose deaths that occurred in Indianapolis, Indiana, from 2016 to 2021 in order to measure trends and sociodemographic disparities in access to buprenorphine—a common treatment for opioid use disorder—and opioid painkillers.

The specialists viewed as less than half of all decedents (43.3%) had a PDMP record of any sort, meaning they didn’t actually try to access prescription opioids. The majority (64.7%) of the 10.6% who had been prescribed buprenorphine received it more than 30 days before their death, indicating that they had not actively sought treatment.

Victor and associates likewise tracked down racial disparities in buprenorphine and opioid prescription trends, with dispersal for Blacks essentially lower than whites (7.3% and 21.9% versus 92.7% and 77.7%, respectively).

“Buprenorphine uptake is associated with significantly reduced rates of nonfatal and fatal overdose,” the researchers wrote. “Despite these positive treatment outcomes, several barriers remain to the widespread uptake of [medications for opioid use disorder] in the United States,” such as stigma and cost.

“For these reasons, a lack of adequate buprenorphine prescribing, combined with reductions in the availability of opioid analgesics, have left individuals contending with [opioid use disorder] at an elevated risk of overdose,” they concluded.

Given these trends and past research, Victor said the time has come to reexamine policies that make it almost difficult to get opioid prescriptions, in any event, for those with a genuine need.

“A big reason that we have such a problem with addiction in this country is because people can’t access legitimate pain medication,” he said. “Our findings support a change in policy.”

Continue Reading


error: Content is protected !!