By Amy Orciari Herman
Edited by Lorenzo Di Francesco, MD, FACP, FHM
Concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines nearly doubled from 2001 through 2013, leading to an increase in opioid overdoses, suggests a retrospective study in The BMJ.
Using a large U.S. health claims database, researchers studied some 315,000 adults who filled at least one prescription for an opioid from 2001 through 2013. The proportion of patients whose opioid prescriptions overlapped with a benzodiazepine prescription increased from 9% to 17% over the study period.
Among opioid users who were prescribed benzodiazepines, the adjusted incidence of emergency room visits or inpatient admissions for opioid overdose increased from 2.01% in 2001 to 3.99% in 2013. In comparison, among opioid users not prescribed benzodiazepines, the incidence increased from 1.08% to 1.35%.
The authors estimate that elimination of opioid-benzodiazepine coprescribing could cut the risk for opioid overdose by 15%.