Text Message Program Shows 60 Percent of Opioid Tablets Unused After Common Procedures

A Penn Medicine new study of how text messaging could inform opioid prescribing practices showed that 60 percent of opioids are left over after orthopaedic and urologic procedures
March 25, 2021

PHILADELPHIA— More than half of the opioid tablets prescribed for patients who underwent orthopaedic or urologic procedures went unused in a new study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Using an automated text messaging system that regularly checked in with patients on their pain and opioid use, the study also showed that most opioids are taken within the first few days following a procedure and may not be necessary to manage pain even just a week following a procedure. The study was published today in JAMA Network Open.

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Rep. Trone Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Help Prevent Opioid Addiction


February 18, 2021

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov

Rep. Trone Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Help Prevent Opioid Addiction

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative David Trone (D-MD), along with Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM), and David McKinley (R-WV), introduced the bipartisan Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act to help prevent opioid addiction across the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health care providers dispensed over 153 million opioid prescriptions in 2019, and a recent study estimates that 1% to 4% of individuals who take prescription opioids develop opioid use disorder, putting their lives at risk. The Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act would create a grant program to incentivize states to require prescribers to discuss the addictive qualities of the drugs with patients and inform them of alternative treatment options before prescribing them for acute pain.

“Opioid addiction is on the rise, made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we need to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place,” said Rep. Trone, member of the Commission to Combat Synthetic Opioid Trafficking. “This bill will help ensure that patients have the knowledge to make informed decisions about what treatment option is right for them.”

“Too many lives have been cut short by the opioid crisis, which continues to wreak havoc on families and communities in southwestern Pennsylvania and throughout the country,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “I’m proud to join with Representative Trone to introduce the bipartisan Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act, which will increase awareness of opioids’ addictive qualities and encourage doctors to discuss non-opioid alternatives. I hope our colleagues join us in supporting this bill to empower patients and save lives.”

“Countless families across New Mexico and around the country have suffered through the pain of opioid addiction. In New Mexico, one-third of all drug overdose deaths involved prescription opioids. We rely on our health professionals to be clear and honest about treatment. This bill helps ensure these professionals make us fully aware of the risks of opioids before writing a prescription,” said Rep. Leger Fernández. “This bill puts a public health lens on the opioid epidemic and will bring us one step closer to beating it.”

“The opioid crisis continues to take the lives of tens of thousands of Americans across the nation and the pandemic has only exacerbated this epidemic,” said Rep. McKinley. “This bill strengthens communication between patients and prescribers to ensure patients have the information they need to make educated decisions. People need to know the true risks when considering options to manage their pain and understand there are alternatives to highly addictive opioids.”

“Every American has the right to be warned about the highly addictive qualities of opioids–and that there are effective non-opioid pain relief alternatives-and to receive this warning at the time it is most needed–right before an opioid is prescribed,” said Elaine Pozycki, the Founder of Prevent Opioid Abuse, a national organization working to educate patients and parents about the risks of opioid-based pain relievers and the availability of non-opioid alternatives. “The Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act provides the incentives needed to persuade every state in the nation to adopt this proven prevention measure. I urge Congress to move speedily to adopt it.”

“We appreciate the efforts of Congressman Trone. His continued leadership on the opioid use crisis is sorely needed during these difficult times,” said Hon. Mary Bono, Co-Convenor of the Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP).

“Voices for Non-Opioid Choices is dedicated to combatting the opioid epidemic by expanding access to and utilization of non-opioid options for acute pain management. We applaud Representatives Trone, McKinley, Leger Fernandez, and Reschenthaler for introducing The Opioids Patients’ Right to Know Act, which will help to ensure patients and providers are educated about opioids and learn about the non-opioid treatment options that may be available to them. We are hopeful this effort will help reduce the rates of chronic opioid use after surgery in America, and provide greater access to non-opioid options. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to curb the opioid epidemic by providing parity in acute pain management,” said Chris Fox, Executive Director for Voices for Non-Opioid Choices.

Organizations supporting the Opioid Patients’ Right to Know Act include: Prevent Opioid Abuse (POA), Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP), Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA), Partnership to End Addiction, Shatterproof, Addiction Policy Forum, FED UP!, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), and Voices for Non-Opioid Choices.

To read bill text, click here

To read a bill summary, click here.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Appropriations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees in the 117th Congress and previously served on the Education and Labor and Foreign Affairs Committees. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.


2020 ‘exacerbated all of the issues’ driving record drug abuse in America

From Yahoo News:

The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating mental health effects on Americans, and drug abuse is hitting record levels.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending in May 2020. That’s the highest number ever recorded by the CDC.

“This pandemic and all that’s come along with it has really just exacerbated those vulnerabilities and the shortcomings of our own approach to treating those people,” Dr. Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist and emergency physician based out of Ohio, told Yahoo Finance.

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The Deadliest Year In the History of U.S. Drug Use

From New York Magazine:

While over 300,000 Americans and counting have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, another public-health disaster is taking more lives than ever before: drug overdoses.

Overdose deaths in 2019 were significantly higher than 2018, jumping from 67,367 deaths in 2018 to 70,630 overdose deaths in 2019, marking a nearly 5 percent increase, according to a new report issued Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If that’s not grim enough, a separate health alert published by the CDC this week reports a “concerning acceleration” in overdose deaths for 2020, which provisional data show is on track to be the deadliest year for U.S. drug overdose deaths in recorded history. Complete data for 2020 is not expected to be available until some time next year.

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Statement of Elaine Pozycki, Founder of Prevent Opioid Abuse in Response to Purdue Pharma Guilty Plea

From Business Wire:

Purdue Pharma’s agreement to plead guilty to felony charges in part for illegally incentivizing doctors to prescribe more opioid-based pain relievers to patients, even-though the company knew full well how highly addictive these medicines are, underscores the importance of warning patients of the risks of addiction and discussing non-opioid pain relief alternatives. Patients who are being prescribed these medications have the right to be informed, by the prescriber, of the addictive qualities of these drugs as well as any non-opioid alternatives that are available.”

Eighteen states now have passed the Patient Opioid Notification Act, requiring this potentially life-saving conversation between doctor and patient. In a nation where more than 150 million opioid-painkiller prescriptions are written each year, and there are 50,000 annual opioid deaths, it is long past time for this to be the requirement in every state in the nation.”

About Prevent Opioid Abuse

Prevent Opioid Abuse is a national organization working to educate patients and parents about the risks of opioid-based painkillers and the availability of non-opioid alternatives. For additional information, visit https://preventopioidabuse.org/

Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges for Opioid Sales

From the New York Times:

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing of the addictive painkiller, and faces penalties of roughly $8.3 billion, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday. The settlement could pave the way for a resolution of thousands of lawsuits brought against the company for its role in a public health crisis that has killed more than 450,000 Americans since 1999.

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Melissa Etheridge talks son’s OD death and what she’s doing to honor him

““Etheridge shared that Beckett, who is one of two children Etheridge had with former partner Julie Cypher, was first introduced to painkillers after he broke his ankle during a snowboarding incident. That led to a downward spiral.“

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Preventing the opioid epidemic from getting worse requires attacking it at the source

From TheHill.com:

Experts are predicting, and we are beginning to see, a significant uptick in opioid use disorder and overdoses as a result of the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. We know that stress and isolation are significant contributors to the onset of opioid use disorder, and we also know that the reduced access to substance use disorder and mental health treatment spurred by the pandemic will make this crisis worse.

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‘Cries for help’: Drug overdoses are soaring during the coronavirus pandemic

Suspected overdoses nationally jumped 18 percent in March, 29 percent in April and 42 percent in May, data from ambulance teams, hospitals and police shows.

Anahi Ortiz, a medical examiner in Columbus, Ohio, and her staff recently moved into a facility three times the size of their old office. They’re already out of space.
Anahi Ortiz, a medical examiner in Columbus, Ohio, and her staff recently moved into a facility three times the size of their old office. They’re already out of space. (Ty Wright/For The Washington Post)

By William Wan and Heather Long
July 1, 2020 at 9:00 AM EDT
The bodies have been arriving at Anahi Ortiz’s office in frantic spurts — as many as nine overdose deaths in 36 hours. “We’ve literally run out of wheeled carts to put them on,” said Ortiz, a coroner in Columbus, Ohio.

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Yahoo Finance – Brandeis University Study Shows Few Opioid Prescribers Warned Patients of Risk of Addiction Before State Requirement

From Yahoo Finance:

Founder of Prevent Opioid Abuse says findings take on a new importance as COVID-19 is predicted to up substance abuse disorder

A New Jersey law requiring conversations between prescribers and patients to discuss risks of addiction before an opioid-based pain reliever is prescribed, resulted in a more than fourfold increase in the percentage of doctors warning patients about the risks of addiction and a significant drop in patients started on opioids. The study was conducted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, medical director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Dr. Kolodny presented the findings today at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, which was held virtually, rather than at its original Nashville location.

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