There’s an Under-the-Radar Threat from Benzodiazepine Misuse

Results of a study led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Health System and the University of Pennsylvania’s Perlam School of Medicine are highlighting a 4 times increase since 1996 in the death rate from overdoses of benzodiazepines. The finding represents a public health problem “…that has gone under the radar” according to lead author Marcus Bachhuber, MD, MS, and assistant professor of medicine at Einstein. He noted the discovery that benzodiazepine overdose rates have increased at a greater rate than the increase in prescriptions, an indication of increasingly risky behavior by people taking them. The findings were published online last week in the American Journal of Public Health.

In a presentation 2 years ago at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, PAINWeek faculty member Sean Mackey, MD, presented findings on primary care prescribing trends for benzodiazepines, noting a 12% increase in joint prescribing of benzodiazepines and opioids. Dr. Mackey called for more research into the noted trend and for more education on the dangers presented by coprescription of opioids and benzodiazepines. Joanna Starrels, MD, MS, senior author of the present study, observed that opioids are involved in 75% of overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines.

Read a news story about the findings here.

The article abstract may be read here.

More on Dr. Mackey’s remarks to the AAPM may be found here.

 

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