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1.
Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 84, 2022 Jul 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1962846

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Per the CDC, it is estimated that 69,710 opioid overdose deaths occurred in the United States from September 2019 to September 2020. However, it is unclear whether naloxone prescribing also increased or otherwise fluctuated in this time. The objective of this study was to characterize the naloxone prescribing rate in patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital in 2019 and 2020. METHODS: A cross-sectional, retrospective medical record review was performed on patients with OUD from January 2019 through December 2020. Naloxone prescribing, defined as either a written prescription or a provided take-home kit, was assessed for all patients with OUD. RESULTS: In 2019, 11,959 visits were made by 2962 unique patients with OUD, compared to 11,661 visits from 2,641 unique patients in 2020; 609 naloxone prescriptions were provided in 2019 (5.1%) and 619 in 2020 (5.3%). In both years, most OUD-related visits and naloxone prescriptions were from and to male, white, individuals. Compared with 2019, more naloxone prescriptions were given to uninsured patients in 2020 (33.2% vs 44.3%, p < 0.05), and more OUD patients were admitted to inpatient settings (26.0% vs 31.2%, p < 0.05) and received more naloxone prescriptions in the inpatient setting (46.3% vs 62.0%, p < 0.05) in 2020. The proportion of frequent users (i.e., visits ≥ 4 times/year) increased in 2020 for the emergency department (21.5% vs 26.4%, p < 0.001) and inpatient setting (24.9% vs 28.6%, p = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate the need for improving naloxone awareness in providers and prescribing for patients with OUD, particularly in emergency department and outpatient settings. Our results also demonstrated a disparity in naloxone prescribing; a disproportionate number of opioid-related emergency department visits and overdose deaths were noted in Black people and frequent users.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Cross-Sectional Studies , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Hospitals , Humans , Male , Naloxone/therapeutic use , Narcotic Antagonists/therapeutic use , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , Prescriptions , Retrospective Studies , United States
3.
Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 69, 2022 Jun 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1910329

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Buprenorphine and naloxone are first-line medications for people who use opioids (PWUO). Buprenorphine can reduce opioid use and cravings, help withdrawal symptoms, and reduce risk of opioid overdose. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can be administered to reverse an opioid overdose. Despite the utility of these medications, PWUO face barriers to access these medications. Downtown Los Angeles has high rates, and number, of opioid overdoses which could potentially be reduced by increasing distribution of naloxone and buprenorphine. This study aimed to determine the accessibility of these medications in a major urban city by surveying community pharmacies regarding availability of buprenorphine and naloxone, and ability to dispense naloxone without a prescription. METHODS: Pharmacies were identified in the Los Angeles downtown area by internet search and consultation with clinicians. Phone calls were made to pharmacies at two separate time points-September 2020 and March 2021 to ask about availability of buprenorphine and naloxone. Results were collected and analyzed to determine percentage of pharmacies that had buprenorphine and/or naloxone in stock, and were able to dispense naloxone without a prescription. RESULTS: Out of the 14 pharmacies identified in the downtown LA zip codes, 13 (92.9%) were able to be reached at either time point. The zip code with one of the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths did not have any pharmacies in the area. Most of the pharmacies were chain stores (69.2%). Eight of the 13 (61.5%) pharmacies were stocked and prepared to dispense buprenorphine upon receiving a prescription, and an equivalent number was prepared to dispense naloxone upon patient request, even without a naloxone prescription. All of the independent pharmacies did not have either buprenorphine or naloxone available. CONCLUSIONS: There is a large gap in care for pharmacies in high overdose urban zip codes to provide access to medications for PWUO. Unavailability of medication at the pharmacy-level may impede PWUO ability to start or maintain pharmacotherapy treatment. Pharmacies should be incentivized to stock buprenorphine and naloxone and encourage training of pharmacists in harm reduction practices for people who use opioids.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opiate Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Pharmacies , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/prevention & control , Humans , Los Angeles , Naloxone/therapeutic use , Narcotic Antagonists/therapeutic use , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics
4.
Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 49, 2022 05 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1910326

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The increasing prevalence of highly potent, illicitly manufactured fentanyl and its analogues (IMF) in the USA is exacerbating the opioid epidemic which has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Narcan® (naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for opioid-related overdoses. Due to the high potency of IMF, multiple naloxone administrations (MNA) may be needed per overdose event. It is essential to determine the patterns of naloxone use, including MNA, and preferences among bystanders who have used naloxone for opioid overdose reversal. METHODS: A cross-sectional web-based survey was administered to 125 adult US residents who administered 4 mg Narcan® Nasal Spray during an opioid overdose in the past year. The survey asked about the most recent overdose event, the use of Narcan® during the event and the associated withdrawal symptoms, and participant preferences regarding dosages of naloxone nasal spray. An open-ended voice survey was completed by 35 participants. RESULTS: Participants were mostly female (70%) and white (78%), while reported overdose events most frequently occurred in people who were males (54%) and white (86%). Most events (95%) were successfully reversed, with 78% using ≥ 2 doses and 30% using ≥ 3 doses of Narcan® Nasal Spray. Over 90% were worried that 1 Narcan® box may not be enough for a successful future reversal. Reported withdrawal symptoms were similar in overdose events where 1 versus ≥ 2 sprays were given. Eighty-six percent of participants reported more confidence in an 8 mg versus a 4 mg naloxone nasal spray and 77% reported a stronger preference for 8 mg over 4 mg. CONCLUSIONS: MNA occurred in most overdose events, often involving more sprays than are provided in one Narcan® nasal spray box, and participants predominantly expressed having a stronger preference for and confidence in an 8 mg compared to a 4 mg nasal spray. This suggests the need and desire for a higher dose naloxone nasal spray formulation option. Given that bystanders may be the first to administer naloxone to someone experiencing an opioid overdose, ensuring access to an adequate naloxone supply is critical in addressing the opioid overdose epidemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opiate Overdose , Substance Withdrawal Syndrome , Adult , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Cross-Sectional Studies , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Male , Naloxone/therapeutic use , Narcotic Antagonists/therapeutic use , Nasal Sprays , Pandemics , Substance Withdrawal Syndrome/drug therapy
5.
Subst Abus ; 43(1): 1251-1259, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1878618

ABSTRACT

Background: As the drug-related overdose crisis and COVID-19 pandemic continue, communities need increased access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) (i.e., buprenorphine and methadone). Disparities in the type of MOUD prescribed or administered by racial and ethnic categories are well described in the outpatient clinical environment. It is unknown, however, if these disparities persist when MOUD is provided in acute care hospitals. Methods: This study assessed differences in the delivery of buprenorphine versus methadone during acute medical or surgical hospitalizations for veterans with opioid use disorder (OUD) by racial categories (Black Non-Hispanic or Latino vs. White Non-Hispanic or Latino). Data were obtained retrospectively from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for federal fiscal year 2017. We built logistic regression models, adjusted for individual and hospital-related covariates, and calculated the predicted probabilities of MOUD delivery by racial categories. Results: The study cohort (n = 1,313 unique patients; N = 107 VHA hospitals) had a mean age of 57 (range 23 to 87 years), was predominantly male (96%), and composed entirely of Black (29%) or White (71%) patients. White patients were 11% more likely than Black patients to receive buprenorphine than methadone during hospitalization (p = 0.010; 95% CI: 2.7%, 20.0%). Among patients on MOUD prior to hospitalization, White patients were 21% more likely than Black patients to receive buprenorphine (p = 0.000; 95% CI: 9.8%, 31.5%). Among patients newly initiated on MOUD during hospitalization, there were no differences by racial categories. Conclusion: We observed disparities in the delivery of buprenorphine versus methadone during hospitalization by racial categories. The observed differences in hospital-based MOUD delivery may be influenced by MOUD received prior to hospitalization within the racialized outpatient addiction treatment system. The VHA and health systems more broadly must address all aspects of racism that contribute to inequitable MOUD access throughout all clinical contexts.


Subject(s)
Buprenorphine , COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Female , Hospitalization , Humans , Male , Methadone/therapeutic use , Middle Aged , Opiate Substitution Treatment , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , Young Adult
6.
Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 52, 2022 05 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1866364

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Worsening of the overdose crisis in the USA has been linked to the continuing proliferation of non-pharmaceutical fentanyl (NPF). The recent wave of NPF spread in the USA has been fueled by an increased presence of counterfeit pills that contain NPF. This qualitative study aims to characterize the motivation and practices of counterfeit NPF pill initiation and use among individuals using illicit opioids in Arizona. METHODS: Between October 2020 and May 2021, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 individuals meeting the following eligibility criteria: (1) 18 years or older; (2) residence in Arizona; and (3) use of illicit opioids in the past 30 days and/or opioid use disorder treatment in the past 12 months. Participants were recruited through referrals by a harm reduction organization, craigslist ads, and referrals by other participants. Interviews were conducted virtually via Zoom. Qualitative interviews were transcribed and analyzed thematically using NVivo. RESULTS: Out of 22 participants, 64% were male, and 45% were ethnic minorities. Age ranged between 25 and 51 years old. Participants noted significant recent increases in the availability of counterfeit NPF pills ("blues," "dirty oxys") that were most commonly used by smoking. The majority indicated first trying NPF pills in the past year, and the first use often occurred in situations of reduced access to heroin or pharmaceutical opioids. Participant decisions to switch over to more frequent NPF pill use or to maintain some levels of heroin use were shaped by local drug availability trends and personal experiences with NPF effects. They were also influenced by conflicting views of social acceptability of pharmaceutical-like drugs, perceived harms of NPF in terms of overdose risks and increased difficulty of quitting, and perceived benefits of switching to the non-injection route of opioid administration (e.g., from injecting heroin to smoking NPF pills). CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight the need for the implementation of novel policy, treatment, and harm reduction approaches to address the growing unpredictability of drug supply and NPF pill-specific risks, attitudes, and behaviors.


Subject(s)
Drug Overdose , Illicit Drugs , Adult , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Female , Fentanyl , Heroin/therapeutic use , Humans , Male , Middle Aged
7.
J Addict Nurs ; 33(2): 86-94, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1874031

ABSTRACT

ABSTRACT: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to not only increase in substance misuse, substance use disorder, and risk of overdose but also lack of access to treatment services. Due to lack of knowledge of the course and impact of COVID-19 and outcomes of it's interactions with existing treatments, the Substance Misuse Service Team initiated a safety improvement project to review the safety of opioid substitution treatment, particularly the safety of methadone. This preliminary retrospective cross-sectional audit of safety improvement intiative underscores the importance of providing treatment services to those with opioid use disorders and that methadone is safe among this population with a high burden of comorbidity, most of which leads to negative outcomes from COVID-19. The outcomes show that patients who have COVID-19 should continue with opioid substitution treatment with methadone. Although treatment with methadone is safe, symptomatic patients should be monitored. In addition, patients who take methadone at home should be educated on the risk of overdose due to, and adverse outcomes from, COVID-19 infection. Patients should monitor themselves using pulse oximeter for any signs of hypoxia.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Cross-Sectional Studies , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Humans , Methadone/adverse effects , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies
8.
Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 50, 2022 05 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1865300

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: When the novel coronavirus pandemic emerged in March 2020, many settings across Canada and the USA were already contending with an existing crisis of drug overdoses due to the toxic unregulated drug supply. In response, the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) released innovative risk mitigation prescribing (RMP) guidelines for medical professionals to prescribe pharmaceutical alternatives to unregulated drugs in an effort to support the self-isolation of people who use unregulated drugs (PWUD) in preventing both SARS-CoV-2 virus infection and overdoses. We sought to assess the level of awareness of RMP and identify factors associated with this awareness among PWUD in Vancouver, BC. METHODS: Cross-sectional data were derived from participants enrolled in three community-recruited prospective cohort studies of PWUD in Vancouver, interviewed between July and November 2020. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with awareness of RMP. RESULTS: Among 633 participants, 302 (47.7%) had heard of RMP. Of those 302 participants, 199 (65.9%) had never tried to access RMP services, ten (3.3%) made an unsuccessful attempt to access RMP, and 93 (30.8%) received RMP. In the multivariable analysis, participants who had awareness of RMP guidelines were more likely to self-identify as white (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.47; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.01, 2.13), to have completed secondary school education or higher (AOR = 1.67; 95% CI: 1.16, 2.39), to have used drugs at a supervised consumption or overdose prevention site in the past six months (AOR = 1.66; 95% CI: 1.10, 2.52), and to have received opioid agonist therapy as treatment for opioid use disorder in the past six months (AOR = 1.51; 95% CI: 1.02, 2.24). CONCLUSION: At least four months after the release of the guidelines, RMP was known to less than half of our study participants, warranting urgent educational efforts for PWUD, particularly among racialized groups and those who were not accessing other harm reduction services. Furthermore, the majority of participants who were aware of RMP guidelines had never tried to access the service, suggesting the need to improve perceived accessibility and knowledge of eligibility criteria.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , British Columbia/epidemiology , Canada/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/prevention & control , Humans , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2
10.
BMC Emerg Med ; 22(1): 62, 2022 04 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1840946

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Opioid-related overdoses cause substantial numbers of preventable deaths. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist available in take-home naloxone (THN) kits as a lifesaving measure for opioid overdose. As the emergency department (ED) is a primary point of contact for patients with high-risk opioid use, evidence-based recommendations from the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia THN practice guidelines include the provision of THN, accompanied by psychosocial interventions. However, implementation of these guidelines in practice is unknown. This study investigated ED opioid-related overdose presentations, concordance of post-overdose interventions with the THN practice guidelines, and the impact, if any, of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic on case presentations. METHODS: A single-centre retrospective audit was conducted at a major tertiary hospital of patients presenting with overdoses involving opioids and non-opioids between March to August 2019 and March to August 2020. Patient presentations and interventions delivered by the paramedics, ED and upon discharge from the ED were collated from medical records and analysed using descriptive statistics, chi square and independent T-tests. RESULTS: The majority (66.2%) of patients presented to hospital with mixed drug overdoses involving opioids and non-opioids. Pharmaceutical opioids were implicated in a greater proportion (72.1%) of overdoses than illicit opioids. Fewer patients presented in March to August 2020 as compared with 2019 (26 vs. 42), and mixed drug overdoses were more frequent in 2020 than 2019 (80.8% vs. 57.1%). Referral to outpatient psychology (22.0%) and drug and alcohol services (20.3%) were amongst the most common post-discharge interventions. Naloxone was provided to 28 patients (41.2%) by the paramedics and/or ED. No patients received THN upon discharge. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights opportunities to improve ED provision of THN and other interventions post-opioid overdose. Large-scale multi-centre studies are required to ascertain the capacity of EDs to provide THN and the impact of COVID-19 on opioid overdose presentations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opiate Overdose , Aftercare , Analgesics, Opioid , COVID-19/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Emergency Service, Hospital , Humans , Naloxone/therapeutic use , Patient Discharge , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Tertiary Care Centers
11.
Subst Abus ; 43(1): 1143-1150, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1830535

ABSTRACT

Background: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States (US) was already facing an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. Overdose deaths continued to surge during the pandemic. To limit COVID-19 spread and to avoid disruptions in access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), including buprenorphine and methadone, US federal and state agencies granted unprecedented exemptions to existing MOUD guidelines for Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), including loosening criteria for unsupervised take-home doses. We conducted a qualitative study to evaluate the impact of these policy changes on MOUD treatment experiences for providers and patients at an OTP in California. Methods: We interviewed 10 providers (including two physicians, five social worker associates, and three nurse practitioners) and 20 patients receiving MOUD. We transcribed, coded, and analyzed all interviews to identify emergent themes. Results: Patient participants were middle-aged (median age 51 years) and were predominantly men (53%). Providers discussed clinical decision-making processes and experiences providing take-homes. Implementation of expanded take-home policies was cautious. Providers reported making individualized decisions, using patient factors to decide if benefits outweighed risks of overdose and misuse. Decision-making factors included patient drug use, overdose risk, housing status, and vulnerability to COVID-19. New patient groups started receiving take-homes and providers noted few adverse events. Patients who received take-homes reported increased autonomy and treatment flexibility, which in turn increased likelihood of treatment stabilization and engagement. Patients who remained ineligible for take-homes, usually due to ongoing non-prescribed opioid or benzodiazepine use, desired greater transparency and shared decision-making. Conclusion: Federal exemptions in response to COVID-19 led to the unprecedented expansion of access to MOUD take-homes within OTPs. Providers and patients perceived benefits to expanding access to take-homes and experienced few adverse outcomes, suggesting expanded take-home policies should remain post-COVID-19. Future studies should explore whether these findings are generalizable to other OTPs and assess larger samples to quantify patient-level outcomes resulting from expanded take-home policies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Female , Freedom , Humans , Male , Methadone/therapeutic use , Middle Aged , Opioid-Related Disorders/epidemiology , Pandemics , Qualitative Research , United States
12.
Int J Drug Policy ; 105: 103709, 2022 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1819474

ABSTRACT

AIMS: In March 2020, British Columbia issued Risk Mitigation Guidance (RMG) to support prescribing of pharmaceutical alternatives to illicit drugs, in order to reduce risk for COVID-19, overdose, and withdrawal among people who use drugs. This study evaluated factors associated with 60-day adherence to novel opioid alternatives prescribed at an inner-city health centre in Victoria, Canada. METHODS: A chart review was conducted to collect data on sociodemographic information, medical histories, and follow-up services among all clients prescribed novel opioid alternatives from March 2020-August 2020 (n = 286). Bivariable and multivariable regression were used to identify independent and adjusted factors associated with 60-day adherence. RESULTS: Overall, 77% of 286 clients were still receiving opioids after 60 days of follow-up. Medications included hydromorphone (n = 274), sustained-release oral morphine (n = 2), and oxycodone (n = 9). The adjusted odds of 60-day adherence to novel opioid alternatives were significantly higher for those receiving a mental health medication (aOR = 3.49, 95%CI = 1.26, 11.00), a higher maximum daily dosage of RMG prescriptions (aOR = 1.03 per mg increase, 95%CI = 1.01, 1.04), and those with continuous receipt of OAT (aOR = 6.25, 95%CI = 2.67, 15.90). CONCLUSIONS: Higher dosages and co-prescription of mental health medications and OAT may help support better adherence to this form of prescriber-based "safer supply". Further work is needed to identify optimal prescribing practices and the longer term impacts of differing implementation scenarios.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , British Columbia/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/prevention & control , Health Personnel , Humans
13.
Addict Sci Clin Pract ; 17(1): 24, 2022 04 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1808386

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Drug overdose rates in the United States have been steadily increasing, particularly in rural areas. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated mitigation strategies may have increased overdose risk for people who use drugs by impacting social, community, and structural factors. METHODS: The study included a quantitative survey focused on COVID-19 administered to 50 people who use drugs and semi-structured qualitative interviews with 17 people who use drugs, 12 of whom also participated in the quantitative survey. Descriptive statistics were run for the quantitative data. Qualitative coding was line-by-line then grouped thematically. Quantitative and qualitative data were integrated during analysis. RESULTS: Findings demonstrate how COVID-19 disruptions at the structural and community level affected outcomes related to mental health and drug use at the individual level. Themes that emerged from the qualitative interviews were (1) lack of employment opportunities, (2) food and housing insecurity, (3) community stigma impacting health service use, (4) mental health strains, and (5) drug market disruptions. Structural and community changes increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness on the individual level, as well as changes in drug use patterns, all of which are likely to increase overdose risk. CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic, and mitigation strategies aimed at curbing infection, disrupted communities and lives of people who use drugs. These disruptions altered individual drug use and mental health outcomes, which could increase risk for overdose. We recommend addressing structural and community factors, including developing multi-level interventions, to combat overdose. Trial registration Clinicaltrails.gov: NCT04427202. Registered June 11, 2020: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04427202?term=pho+mai&draw=2&rank=3.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Substance-Related Disorders , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics , Rural Population , United States/epidemiology
14.
Subst Abus ; 43(1): 988-992, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1795544

ABSTRACT

Background: The co-occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid epidemic has increased the risk of overdose and death for patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). COVID-19 has also exacerbated already limited access to opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND). In this context, we aim to increase access to OEND for patients at risk for opioid overdose. Methods: Medical student volunteers were trained to conduct telephone-based OEND, and subsequently contacted all patients at a NYC primary care clinic for people who use drugs as well as those presenting to the hospital with OUD or a history of opioid overdose. Interested patients who completed the training received naloxone kits via mail or at hospital discharge. Results: OEND provision was converted to a remote-only model from May to June 2020. During this time, eight pre-clinical medical students called a total of 503 high-risk patients. Of these patients, 165 were reached, with 90 (55%) accepting telephone-based OEND. Comparing across populations, 51% of primary care patients versus 76% of ED/hospitalized patients accepted opioid overdose education. Eighty-four total patients received naloxone. Conclusions: We have outlined a scalable, adaptable model by which clinics and hospitals with affiliated medical schools can provide OEND by telephone. Medical student-driven, telephone-based OEND efforts can effectively reach at-risk patients and increase naloxone access.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Opiate Overdose , Opioid-Related Disorders , Students, Medical , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Humans , Naloxone/therapeutic use , Narcotic Antagonists/therapeutic use , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Pandemics , Telephone
15.
J Pharmacol Exp Ther ; 381(2): 129-136, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1794541

ABSTRACT

The incidence of fatal drug overdoses in the United States is an alarming public health threat that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in over 100,000 deaths between April 2020 and April 2021. A significant portion of this is attributable to widespread access to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, alone or in combination with heroin or psychostimulants, such as cocaine or methamphetamine. Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) offer prophylactic and therapeutic interventions against opioid overdose by binding opioids in serum, reducing distribution of drug to the brain and other organs. Here, we investigated the efficacy of a leading antifentanyl mAb, clone HY6-F9, in reversal and prevention of fentanyl-induced toxicity compared with the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone (NLX) in rats. In postexposure models, rats were challenged with fentanyl, followed by HY6-F9, NLX, or both. HY6-F9 reversed fentanyl-induced antinociception, respiratory depression, and bradycardia, and rats retained protection against additional challenges for at least 1 week. Although intravenous NLX reversed fentanyl-induced respiratory depression more rapidly than mAb alone, kinetics of reversal by intravenous mAb were similar to subcutaneous NLX. Coadministration of mAb and NLX provided greater protection than individual treatments against high doses of fentanyl. Prophylactic administration of mAb reduced the ED50 of NLX approximately twofold against 2.25 mg/kg of fentanyl. Finally, mAb sequestered fentanyl and its metabolite norfentanyl in serum and reduced brain concentrations of fentanyl. These results support the translation of mAb as medical interventions alone or in combination with NLX to prevent and reverse fentanyl-related overdose. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Fentanyl-related overdoses have increased dramatically in the US and worldwide. Currently, approved pharmacotherapies for treatment of opioid use disorder and reversal of overdose are not sufficient to curb the incidence of opioid-related deaths. Additionally, fentanyl and its potent analogs present a potential risk from use in deliberate poisoning or chemical attacks. This study demonstrates the use of monoclonal antibodies as a countermeasure to fentanyl-induced toxicity in pre- and postexposure scenarios, supporting their use in combination with the opioid antagonist naloxone.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Respiratory Insufficiency , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/pharmacology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Fentanyl , Humans , Naloxone/pharmacology , Naloxone/therapeutic use , Narcotic Antagonists/pharmacology , Pandemics , Rats , Respiratory Insufficiency/drug therapy
16.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(6)2022 03 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1765699

ABSTRACT

The street homeless, those who spend their nights either in shelters or unofficial camps, whether in tents on a street or in society's hidden spaces such as beneath an overpass, face multiple challenges beyond finding a safe place to sleep. Of further concern is how official actions can worsen these situations, through day-to-day activities or planned intervention strategies. In this paper we explore how a planned intervention may be negatively perceived-even as a form of "structural violence"-and may prevent Narcan (naloxone) use to stop an overdose related death in the Skid Row of Los Angeles. Data for this study consisted of a combination of Spatial Video Geonarratives (SVGs) and 325 incident reports from the Homeless Health Care Los Angeles Center for Harm Reduction (HHCLA-HRC) between November 2014 and December 2015. Chi-square and simple logistic regression models were used to examine the association between fear-of-arrest and other covariates of interest. Mapping results are presented with different sets of shapefiles created for (1) all Narcan uses, (2) all homeless, (3) all homeless with a worry about being arrested, (4) all Narcan uses where an ambulance attended, (5) and the same as 4 but also with police attendance. In the multivariable model, the estimated adjusted odds of fear-of-arrest is over three times higher among Narcan users ages 30-39 when compared to users under the age of 30. Analyzing the association of calling 9-1-1 on Narcan user demographics, socio-contextual characteristics, and overdose victim demographics, the crude estimated probability of calling 9-1-1 for Narcan users aged 50 and older is nearly three times higher when compared to Narcan users aged 19-29. Conclusion: Results suggest that the fear-of-arrest and calling 9-1-1 during an overdose is still a concern among Narcan users despite protective legislation and access to harm reduction resources.


Subject(s)
Drug Overdose , Naloxone , Aged , Attitude , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/prevention & control , Harm Reduction , Humans , Law Enforcement/methods , Middle Aged , Naloxone/therapeutic use
17.
Am J Public Health ; 112(S2): S151-S158, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1736599

ABSTRACT

Objectives. To explore the implementation and effectiveness of the British Columbia, Canada, risk mitigation guidelines among people who use drugs, focusing on how experiences with the illicit drug supply shaped motivations to seek prescription alternatives and the subsequent impacts on overdose vulnerability. Methods. From February to July 2021, we conducted qualitative interviews with 40 people who use drugs in British Columbia, Canada, and who accessed prescription opioids or stimulants under the risk mitigation guidelines. Results. COVID-19 disrupted British Columbia's illicit drug market. Concerns about overdose because of drug supply changes, and deepening socioeconomic marginalization, motivated participants to access no-cost prescription alternatives. Reliable access to prescription alternatives addressed overdose vulnerability by reducing engagement with the illicit drug market while allowing greater agency over drug use. Because prescriptions were primarily intended to manage withdrawal, participants supplemented with illicit drugs to experience enjoyment and manage pain. Conclusions. Providing prescription alternatives to illicit drugs is a critical harm reduction approach that reduces exposure to an increasingly toxic drug supply, yet further optimizations are needed. (Am J Public Health. 2022;112(S2):S151-S158. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306692).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , British Columbia/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Canada/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/prevention & control , Emergencies , Humans
18.
Int J Drug Policy ; 101: 103554, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1729687

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Concurrent opioid-related overdose and COVID-19 crises in the U.S. have imposed unprecedented challenges on people who use illicit opioids. METHODS: Using the experiences of 324 people who use illicit opioids between April 2020 and March 2021, we examined four domains of health and well-being potentially impacted by COVID-19: drug risks and responses, healthcare and related services, material hardship, and mental health. Data were drawn from participants' completed monthly survey assessments which were grouped into four periods of interest for the unfolding pandemic: April-June 2020, July-October 2020, November-January 2021, and February-March 2021. RESULTS: A majority of measures in our four domains showed early COVID-19 related impacts, which quickly diminished as people and agencies responded to the pandemic. Difficulty obtaining food was the most frequently reported material hardship and appeared worst in April-June 2020. Over half of the population reported depression in April-June 2020, but this declined over the study period. Some participants reported changes to the heroin supply, including higher prices, lower quality, difficulty finding the drug, and fentanyl contamination. There was no discernable temporal shift in the frequency of use of each substance or the frequency of withdrawal symptoms. Over the study period, the mean number of overdoses per month decreased while the percent of opioid use events at which both a witness and naloxone were present (i.e., protected events) increased. Most participants receiving MOUD experienced an increase in take-home doses. CONCLUSIONS: Findings speak to the resilience of people who use drugs as a population with disproportionate experience of trauma and crisis and also to the rapid response of NYC health agencies and service providers working with this population. Despite evident signs of adaptability and resilience, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some of the unique vulnerabilities of people who use illicit opioids and the need for greater rates of "protected" opioid use and greater availability of wrap-around services to efficiently address the safety, food security, mental health, and treatment needs of the population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Analgesics, Opioid , COVID-19/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Humans , New York City/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
19.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(4)2022 02 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1708513

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the opioid overdose crisis in the US. Rural communities have been disproportionately affected by opioid use and people who use drugs in these settings may be acutely vulnerable to pandemic-related disruptions due to high rates of poverty, social isolation, and pervasive resource limitations. METHODS: We performed a mixed-methods study to assess the impact of the pandemic in a convenience sample of people who use drugs in rural Illinois. We conducted 50 surveys capturing demographics, drug availability, drug use, sharing practices, and mental health symptoms. In total, 19 qualitative interviews were performed to further explore COVID-19 knowledge, impact on personal and community life, drug acquisition and use, overdose, and protective substance use adaptations. RESULTS: Drug use increased during the pandemic, including the use of fentanyl products such as gel encapsulated "beans" and "buttons". Disruptions in supply, including the decreased availability of heroin, increased methamphetamine costs and a concomitant rise in local methamphetamine production, and possible fentanyl contamination of methamphetamine was reported. Participants reported increased drug use alone, experience and/or witness of overdose, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Consistent access to harm reduction services, including naloxone and fentanyl test strips, was highlighted as a source of hope and community resiliency. CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic period was characterized by changing drug availability, increased overdose risk, and other drug-related harms faced by people who use drugs in rural areas. Our findings emphasize the importance of ensuring access to harm reduction services, including overdose prevention and drug checking for this vulnerable population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Pharmaceutical Preparations , Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use , COVID-19/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Fentanyl , Harm Reduction , Humans , Pandemics , Rural Population , SARS-CoV-2
20.
Am J Emerg Med ; 53: 284.e1-284.e3, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1682857

ABSTRACT

Valproic acid (VPA) and derivatives are effective anticonvulsants that are also used for numerous mood disorders. VPA toxicity can cause central nervous system (CNS) depression, dose related hyperammonemia, and eventually hepatotoxicity. While traditional treatment of VPA toxicity often includes l-carnitine, activated charcoal, and hemodialysis; an interaction with carbapenem class antibiotics has been well established in literature and may offer a different avenue of treatment. This case describes a 38 year-old female with a past medical history of epilepsy effectively treated with meropenem to rapidly and safely lower toxic VPA levels after an acute ingestion. A review of four VPA poisoning case reports and the interaction with carbapenem class antibiotics is also included.


Subject(s)
Drug Overdose , Epilepsy , Adult , Anti-Bacterial Agents/therapeutic use , Anticonvulsants , Carbapenems/therapeutic use , Drug Overdose/drug therapy , Drug Overdose/therapy , Epilepsy/drug therapy , Female , Humans , Meropenem/therapeutic use , Valproic Acid
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