A new study found that very few patients at high risk of an opioid overdose are being prescribed the opioid reversal drug Naloxone when seen in a health care setting.
The study, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association Open Network, looked at data from more than 130,000 commercially insured patients with opioid use disorder.
Researchers found that only 1.5 percent of those patients were prescribed the opioid reversal drug naloxone when seen in a health care setting.
Patients who had overdosed in the past were more likely to be prescribed naloxone than those with an opioid dependence or misuse who hadn’t.
Yet from 2016-2017, American deaths linked to synthetic opioids increased by 45 percent -- while deaths from heroin and prescription opioids remained stable during the same time period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study’s authors say this represents a missed opportunity for preventing further opioid deaths.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.