Breaking News
August 21, 2018 - National Foundation for Cancer Research receives Safeway Foundation grant
August 21, 2018 - Protein aggregation in neurons linked to gene regulation in Huntington’s disease
August 21, 2018 - Aravive Biologics gains Fast Track Designation for AVB-S6-500 from U.S. FDA
August 21, 2018 - FDA Approves Opdivo (nivolumab) for Certain Patients with Previously Treated Small Cell Lung Cancer
August 21, 2018 - Success of blood test for autism affirmed
August 21, 2018 - Diabetic patients with disrupted sleep may need more time to heal their wounds
August 21, 2018 - AADE honors six educators for achievements in diabetes education
August 21, 2018 - Scientists find two molecules that may combat cancer and chronic infections
August 21, 2018 - Two Strategies for Preventing Diabetes in Minority Patients
August 21, 2018 - Living as a Gallbladder Cancer Survivor
August 21, 2018 - Can we predict the long-term outcome of boys with ADHD?
August 21, 2018 - GBCA creates model for developing scientist-advocate collaborations in cancer research
August 21, 2018 - Healthy diet could help promote healthy cellular aging in women
August 21, 2018 - Researchers develop gene expression predictor for immunotherapy response in melanoma
August 21, 2018 - MDI Biological Laboratory introduces Morris Scientific Discovery Fund for eligible research programs
August 21, 2018 - Micro-flow model reveals complex interactions between the brain’s blood vessels and nerve cells
August 21, 2018 - Study investigates impact of osteoporosis on risk of developing dementia
August 21, 2018 - Federal method fails to detect most stores that sell cigarettes to minors
August 21, 2018 - Workers in open office seating have less stress than those in private offices and cubicles
August 21, 2018 - 1 in 4 in U.S. Has a Disability, CDC Reports
August 21, 2018 - Studies provide new insights into the role of sleep in chronic pain
August 21, 2018 - Study shows that rogue proteins may underlie some ALS and frontotemporal dementia cases
August 21, 2018 - Elevated LDL cholesterol levels linked to higher risk of CVD death in young, healthy people
August 21, 2018 - Measles cases on the rise in Europe
August 21, 2018 - CURE Media Group welcomes CancerCare to Strategic Alliance Partnership Program
August 21, 2018 - Blood management program associated with fewer transfusions in orthopedic patients
August 21, 2018 - Researchers create the world’s first artificial retina
August 21, 2018 - Yale researchers identify racial disparities in prescribing opioids for chronic pain
August 21, 2018 - BOOST-3 clinical trial aims to improve outcomes for severe TBI patients
August 21, 2018 - New study highlights Alzheimer’s herpes link, experts say
August 21, 2018 - Airline crew don’t have significantly elevated risk of thyroid cancer, new study finds
August 21, 2018 - States leverage federal funds to help insurers lower premiums
August 21, 2018 - New badge course explores research around skeletal muscle as an endocrine organ
August 21, 2018 - TG Therapeutics Announces Completion of Target Enrollment in the ULTIMATE Phase 3 Trials in Multiple Sclerosis
August 21, 2018 - Increased levels of human herpesvirus ID’d in Alzheimer’s
August 21, 2018 - To help patients quash pain, researcher develops practical guide for health care providers
August 20, 2018 - Medicine on the front line to be presented at Medical Innovation 2018
August 20, 2018 - Harbour Biomed and Kelun-Biotech collaborate to develop, commercialize anti-PD-L1 antibody
August 20, 2018 - The man who sold America on vitamin D — and profited in the process
August 20, 2018 - Finding the light in antimicrobials
August 20, 2018 - Unique pain program helps surgical patients wean off opioids safely and effectively
August 20, 2018 - Strawberries could mitigate colonic inflammation
August 20, 2018 - FDA Accepts New Drug Application (NDA) to Review Midazolam Nasal Spray, an Investigational Product for the Acute Treatment of Seizure Clusters
August 20, 2018 - Using Facebook to help young adults quit smoking
August 20, 2018 - ‘Liquid biopsy’ predicts lymphoma therapy success within days | News Center
August 20, 2018 - 5 Questions with Jordan Orange, Chair of Pediatrics
August 20, 2018 - New assay may help improve both sarcoma diagnosis and treatment
August 20, 2018 - New information on the brain regions related to metacognition, tactile sense
August 20, 2018 - New class of insect repellents to fight against mosquito-borne diseases
August 20, 2018 - ACA Coverage Gains Include Workers Without Insurance
August 20, 2018 - 3-D printed biomaterials for bone tissue engineering
August 20, 2018 - Current surveillance system does not quickly pick up most listeriosis cases in the EU, study reveals
August 20, 2018 - Prenatal exposure to acute stress can affect cognitive function in children of low-income households
August 20, 2018 - New study examines scope of state policies targeting drug use by pregnant women
August 20, 2018 - Researchers find long-term structural, functional brain abnormalities in individuals with AUDs
August 20, 2018 - Shortage of insurance fraud cops sparks campaign debate
August 20, 2018 - Researchers find STAT3 as therapeutic target for chronic active EBV infection
August 20, 2018 - Health Tip: Keep Diabetic Feet Healthier
August 20, 2018 - FDA approves brain stimulation device for OCD
August 20, 2018 - NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center expands Blood and Marrow Transplant Program
August 20, 2018 - New drug shows potential to prevent painful side effect of therapy
August 20, 2018 - RDMD raises $3 million in seed funding to accelerate rare disease research, drug development
August 20, 2018 - Illicit drug use is higher during celebratory events, may be worse than previously thought
August 20, 2018 - Exploring the relationship between fever and cancer incidence
August 20, 2018 - Study reveals how socioeconomic status affects racial, ethnic disparities in childhood cancer survival
August 20, 2018 - Brain tumors trap immune cells needed to fight cancer in the bone marrow, finds research
August 20, 2018 - Three factors that contribute to physician burnout
August 20, 2018 - Babies dependent on opioids need touch, not tech
August 20, 2018 - Understanding How Antibodies Shape the Gut Microbiome
August 20, 2018 - Cara Therapeutics Doses First Patient in Second Pivotal Phase 3 Efficacy Trial of Korsuva (CR845/difelikefalin) Injection in Hemodialysis Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease-Associated Pruritus
August 20, 2018 - Kidney transplant chains more effective in saving lives
August 20, 2018 - Study unravels cellular and molecular mechanisms behind dermal condensate formation
August 20, 2018 - New integrated gene logic-chips could have great value in medical care
August 20, 2018 - FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Approval of Paratek’s Omadacycline
August 20, 2018 - Total, open repairs decline for abdominal aortic aneurysms
August 20, 2018 - Novel system can pinpoint ingestible implants inside the body using wireless signals
August 20, 2018 - Infection rates of high risk oral HPV in England found to be lower than expected
August 20, 2018 - Making robots as valuable and trustworthy assistants for medical therapies
August 20, 2018 - Patients with low-risk blood clots can be better treated at home than at hospital
August 20, 2018 - Passive smoking exposure among kids greatly increases COPD risk late in life
New findings suggest opportunity to focus on safe opioid use and disposal among older adults

New findings suggest opportunity to focus on safe opioid use and disposal among older adults

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Nearly a third of older adults have received a prescription for an opioid pain medicine in the past two years, but many of them didn’t get enough counseling about the risks that come with the potent painkillers, how to reduce their use, when to switch to a non-opioid option, or what to do with leftover pills, a new poll finds.

But the poll also finds that nearly three-quarters of older adults would support limits on how many opioid pills a doctor could prescribe at once. Even more supported other efforts to limit exposure to these medications, and potentially combat the national epidemic of opioid misuse due to medication diversion.

The new findings, from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, suggest a major opportunity for providers and community organizations to focus on safe opioid use and safe disposal among older Americans. These findings also could help state and federal policymakers understand the views of a key demographic group at a critical time.

The poll of 2,013 adults between the ages of 50 and 80 was conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center.

“We know that unused opioid medications that linger in homes are one of the primary pathways to diversion, misuse, abuse, and dependence. As prescribers, we must find opportunities to discuss safe opioid use, storage, and disposal with our patients,” says Jennifer Waljee, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., the co-director of the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (Michigan OPEN) and an associate professor of surgery at Michigan Medicine. “It is critically important to provide a detailed plan for patients who get opioids for pain management and resources for disposal.”

Waljee worked with NPHA director and U-M professor Preeti Malani, M.D., and IHPI National Clinician Scholar Calista Harbaugh, M.D., to design the poll.

They focused not only on older adults’ own opioid use but also their storage and disposal habits, as well as their perceptions of recent policy measures around opioid prescribing.

Common prescribing, inadequate counseling

Most of the 589 older adults who said they’d received an opioid prescription in the previous two years said it related to arthritis pain, back pain, surgery and/or an injury. While the majority remembered their doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider talking with them about how often to take the medication, the percentage who said they’d talked with any provider about other opioid issues was much lower.

For instance, less than half said their doctor or other provider had counseled them about the risk of addiction or overdose. Just over a quarter said their pharmacist had provided counseling. Slightly more individuals reported that doctors and pharmacists discussed options to reduce the amount of opioids they were taking.

Only 37 percent said their doctor had talked with them about what to do with leftover opioid pills, while 25 percent said their pharmacist had done so. Half of those who had been prescribed an opioid said they had had pills left over, and 86 percent said they kept them for later potential use.

“The fact that so many older adults report having leftover opioid pills is a big problem, given the risk of abuse and addiction with these medications,” says Alison Bryant, Ph.D., senior vice president of research for AARP. “Having unused opioids in the house, often stored in unlocked medicine cabinets, is a big risk to other family members as well. These findings highlight the importance of improving older adults’ awareness and access to services that will help them safely dispose of unused opioid medications.”

Disposal vs. keeping unused pills

The poll also asked those who didn’t have leftover medication, and those who had not been prescribed an opioid in the past two years, what they would have done with leftover pain pills. Two-thirds said they would save them for future use, 27 percent said they would dispose of them at home, and 36 percent said they would take them to an approved disposal facility.

Disposing of leftover medications may require travel to a facility such as a police station, authorized pharmacy, or community “takeback” event that can sometimes be logistically difficult for patients.

The poll asked all respondents to think about what they would do if there were a safe-disposal product that they could pick up along with their prescription. Such products are already on the market and include powders that can be poured into the bottle with extra pills, mixed with water, and safely disposed of in the trash. In all, 39 percent said they would definitely use it, but the majority of the rest said they’d save the medication for future use. And if the safe-disposal product cost $5 or $10, only 9 percent said they would be very likely to buy it.

Opioid policy opinions

The researchers suspect that older adults may fear that they will not be able to obtain pain medications when needed as new state opioid-related policies and laws target reduced prescribing.

Current and proposed laws in some states require providers to look at patients’ prescription records before prescribing opioids, and some require patients to tell their provider if they have been taking pain medications. Other states have proposed special provider education, prescribing restrictions, and required return of unused medications.

The poll shows that nearly all older adults support policies such as required review of prescription records and disclosure of prior opioid medication use, despite concerns that these policies may be perceived as invading patients’ privacy. A slightly lower percentage supported requiring providers to get special training before they can prescribe opioids. But the poll team was surprised to find that 74 percent supported restrictions on the number of opioid pills, or the number of days’ supply, for which prescribers could write a single prescription. On the other hand, just under half of older adults said they’d support required return of unused medications.

Taken together, Malani says, the poll results suggest that healthcare providers who prescribe or dispense opioids should do more to help patients understand how to safely use and dispose of them, in language that patients understand. This should include a disposal plan that helps patients understand why they should dispose of extra medications, and how best to do so.

“When a patient is prescribed an opioid, there are often many other aspects of care at the forefront of patient’s minds, such as their diagnosis, social stressors, work-related concerns, and caring for loved ones, and it can result in education fatigue,” says Waljee. “But we spend a lot of time educating our patients on when they can drive, return to work, and take care of their painful condition or surgical incision sites. Similarly, we need to educate our patients on what to expect following pain, the role and risks of opioids, and important alternatives such as over-the-counter analgesics, breathing, exercise, and sleep.”

The poll results are based on answers from a nationally representative sample of 2,013 people ages 50 to 80. The poll respondents answered a wide range of questions online. Questions were written, and data interpreted and compiled, by the IHPI team. Laptops and Internet access were provided to poll respondents who did not already have it.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles