UNM sets protocol for opioid patients

University of New Mexico (UNM) researchers have developed a novel procedure to reduce the risk of death for chronic pain patients who are prescribed narcotic analgesics: coprescribing naloxone. Researchers enrolled 164 patients over a yearlong period at the UNM Pain Center, reports coauthor Joanna Katzman, MD, the center's director.

University of New Mexico (UNM) researchers have developed a novel procedure to reduce the risk of death for chronic pain patients who are prescribed narcotic analgesics: coprescribing naloxone. Researchers enrolled 164 patients over a yearlong period at the UNM Pain Center, reports coauthor Joanna Katzman, MD, the center's director. The study, published earlier this year in Substance Abuse, marked the first time that all patients at an outpatient pain clinic were coprescribed opioids and naloxone at the same time. Researchers found that educating friends and family is vital to successfully prescribing naloxone, because the drug cannot be self-administered by a person experiencing an overdose, Katzman said. Coprescribing naloxone and opioid drugs "can be a simple, streamlined, and valuable addition" at all outpatient clinics where opioid drugs are prescribed, the study concluded. Today, all UNM Pain Center patients who receive a prescription for opioid drugs also receive a prescription for naloxone, Katzman said.