After someone lives through an opioid overdose, taking the medication buprenorphine lowers their risk of death if they OD again, a new study found.
Buprenorphine is a medication used to treat opioid use disorder. Researchers with the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (AJPM) found that receiving the medicine after an overdose causes a 62% reduction in risk of death in a subsequent opioid overdose.
"Buprenorphine treatment after nonfatal opioid-involved overdose was associated with a 62% reduction in the risk of opioid-involved overdose death," researches said.
The study used nationwide data on Medicare disability beneficiaries between 18 and 64 years of age who received inpatient or emergency treatment for nonfatal opioid overdose between 2008 and 2016.
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The majority of the sample patients the group studied was White and female "with a significantly elevated overdose mortality rate, compared with the general U.S. population."
While the medication is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, fewer than 1 in 20 individuals studied received buprenorphine after a nonfatal opioid overdose, the study found.
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The authors said their findings highlight a need to initiate treatment after nonfatal overdoses, particularly with vulnerable groups.
"Fewer than 1 in 20 individuals received buprenorphine in the subsequent year, highlighting a need to strengthen care connections after critical opioid-related events, particularly for vulnerable groups," the group said.
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), more than 932,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. Nearly 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid.