With a recent study showing opioids were dispensed to 91% of patients after an overdose, Novus Medical Detox Center hails new CDC prescribing guidelines as a critical step but says further efforts are needed to address America’s opioid epidemic.
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla., May 09, 2016 – A recent study found that 91% of chronic-pain patients who survived an opioid overdose were dispensed prescription opioids again in less than year (1)—an alarming statistic considering that the death rate from prescription opioid overdoses nearly doubled from 2013 to 2014 (2). To reduce the risks associated with prescription opioid therapy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain (3). Novus Medical Detox Center, a leading Florida-based drug treatment facility, applauds the new CDC guideline as an important development but maintains that additional regulatory measures should be undertaken to prevent opioid overdoses, misuse and abuse, and to ensure patients with opioid use disorders receive proper treatment.
Key findings from the opioid prescribing study revealed that 7% of patients experienced another opioid overdose in less than a year; at two years, the incidence of repeat overdoses rose to 17% of patients receiving high dosages, 15% receiving medium dosages and 9% receiving low dosages. The study’s authors noted that existing guidelines clearly stated “misuse of opioids and adverse effects are compelling reasons to discontinue opioids.” Yet 70% of patients received their pre- and post-overdose prescriptions from the same doctor, and 41% of patients who overdosed had a documented substance use disorder (1).
Experts believe the study findings suggest several possibilities: prescribing doctors may have been unaware an overdose occurred, they may have had insufficient training in addressing chronic pain or addiction, they may have been reluctant to decrease the dosage patients believed they needed to function, and/or they may have feared that discontinuing opioid therapy would lead patients to turn to illicit opioids, such as heroin, for relief (4).
“Clearly, there are flaws in the system if a patient who overdosed on opioids continues to be prescribed opioid painkillers,” asserted Bryn Wesch, CFO of Novus Medical Detox Center. “While the new CDC prescribing guidelines aim to address some of these shortcomings, recommendations alone are not enough to solve the opioid epidemic. Stronger regulations and enforcement are essential to ensure patient safety and appropriate treatment for those with opioid use disorders.”
The new CDC guideline emphasizes that opioids should not be first-line or routine therapy for chronic pain and that nonopioid therapy is preferred. Clinicians are advised to monitor patients’ use of controlled substances via their state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) and through urine drug testing (3). While the guideline specifies what physicians “should” do, compliance is not legally mandated at a national level.
Wesch calls for regulations and systems that would alert doctors to previous overdoses and potential signs of substance abuse, and she advocates for mandatory training on chronic pain and substance use disorders. “If a patient still requests opioids after a previous overdose or if a doctor suspects the patient may resort to illicit drugs, I feel it is irresponsible to continue prescribing opioids,” said Wesch. “Physicians have a duty to ensure their patients receive appropriate care. In the case of overdose survivors, I believe that means pursuing alternatives to opioid therapy and referring individuals with substance use disorders to a qualified drug treatment program.”
Novus has helped many patients successfully manage opioid withdrawal with minimal pain and discomfort. The Florida detox facility provides medically supervised and individually customized treatment plans based on proven medical protocols, including 24-hour access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Novus is renowned for its expertise in treating high-dose methadone cases, and is equally proficient in detoxing other high-dose opioid cases just as safely, comfortably and effectively.
For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its prescription opioid detox programs, visit www.novusdetox.com.
About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox is a Joint Commission Accredited inpatient medical detox facility. Novus offers safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs in a tranquil, spa-like setting. Bordering a protected conservation area, Novus lies on 3.25 acres and provides a perfect setting for quiet walks. The facility is located in New Port Richey, Florida, and is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families. Novus is known for minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal from prescription medication, drugs and alcohol by creating a customized detox program for each patient. Incorporating medication, natural supplements and fluid replenishment, Novus tailors the detox process for each patient. There is 24/7 medical supervision, including round-the-clock nursing care and access to a withdrawal specialist. Novus’ expansion is tied to their contribution to their industry and their local community, ranking in the Florida Business Journal’s top 500, the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50 and Inc. Magazine’s 500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America for the past three years. Novus has become a regular source to the media, including The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, as true advocates for standardization of care in detox to help more people get their lives back. For more information, visit www.novusdetox.com.
- Larochelle, Marc R.; Jane M. Liebschutz; et al. “Opioid Prescribing After Nonfatal Overdose and Association With Repeated Overdose: A Cohort Study”; Annals of Internal Medicine; January 5, 2016. annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2479117
- Rudd, Rose A.; Noah Aleshire; et al. “Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014”; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; January 1, 2016. cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6450a3.htm
- Dowell, Deborah; Tamara M. Haegerich; and Roger Chou. “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016”; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; March 18, 2016. cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm
- Gregg, Jessica. “Follow-up to Nonfatal Opioid Overdoses: More of the Same or an Opportunity for Change?”; Annals of Internal Medicine; January 5, 2016. org/article.aspx?articleid=2479118
Karla Jo Helms
Phone: 888-202-4614 ext. 802