Research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that patients taking opioids for long-term chronic pain, who were given prescriptions for naloxone in a primary care setting, had 63 percent fewer opioid-related emergency department visits after one year compared to those who did not receive prescriptions for naloxone.
This study presents the first large published data regarding co-prescribing naloxone for primary care patients on long-term opioid therapy for pain. Primary care providers were more likely to give naloxone prescriptions to patients on higher opioid doses and with prior opioid-related emergency department visits. The findings suggest that prescribing naloxone in primary care settings is feasible and may offer an additional benefit to reducing opioid-related adverse events.
Study authors indicate they do not know how many patients filled their prescriptions, and their analyses suggests a behavioral impact of naloxone co-prescription, as patients become more aware of the hazards of these medications and may engage in efforts to improve medication safety.
The researchers conducted a follow-up study to evaluate chronic pain patients’ attitudes toward being offered a naloxone prescription. Results showed that 82% successfully filled the prescription and 97% believed that patients prescribed opioids for pain should be offered naloxone. Most patients had a positive (57%) or neutral (22%) response to being offered naloxone, and 37% reported safer opioid use behaviors after receiving the prescription; there were no harmful behavior changes reported. The authors concluded that primary care patients on opioids found it acceptable to receive a prescription for naloxone, the prescription reached patients who had not had access to naloxone, and having naloxone may be associated with beneficial changes in opioid use behaviors.
For a copy of the abstract, "Nonrandomized Intervention Study of Naloxone Coprescription for Primary Care Patients Receiving Long-Term Opioid Therapy for Pain," published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, go to http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2531366&resultClick=3.
For a copy of the abstract, "Primary Care Patient Experience with Naloxone Prescription," published September 12 in Annals of Family Medicine, go to: http://www.annfammed.org/content/14/5/431.full.
For more information about prescription opioids, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids. For more information on naloxone, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2015/11/fda-approves-naloxone-nasal-spray-to-reverse-opioid-overdose.
NIDA Press Office
About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. For more information about NIDA and its programs, visit www.drugabuse.gov.
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