Thursday, March 29, 2012

UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs Unanimously Endorses Overdose Prevention

Two weeks ago in Vienna, delegates at the fifty-fifth annual meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the United Nations’ central drug policy-making body, unanimously adopted a resolution promoting measures to prevent drug overdose. Introduced by the Czech Republic and co-sponsored by Israel and Denmark (the latter on behalf of the European Union), the resolution calls on United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other international organizations to work with member-states to address the global overdose epidemic.

The resolution urges countries to take action by incorporating overdose prevention into their national drug strategies.  In collaboration with WHO, UNODC will identify medical standards and gather successful examples of implementation of such efforts from experts around the world. In addition, they will provide guidance and support to countries committed to establishing overdose prevention initiatives.

At the opening of the week-long meeting the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) affirmed its support for overdose prevention. In his opening statement, ONDCP Director Kerlikowske endorsed training for public health and safety personnel in recognizing overdose and administering life-saving techniques and overdose reversal medications such as naloxone.

Although CND resolutions such as this one are not legally binding on member states, they set the tone for international standards and expectations for national activities directed at addressing drug-related harms.  Being the first top-level international resolution to recognize the role of naloxone in addressing the opioid overdose epidemic, the resolution is being applauded by many public health advocates working to advance overdose prevention programming and education around the world. United Nations programs, such as UNODC and WHO are mandated to use such resolutions to set institutional strategies and priorities. 

Full text of the approved resolution is provided below. The key points for action are contained in the six points at the end of the resolution.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Police Training Video

A (really excellent) training video for police regarding Washington State's 911 Good Samaritan and Lay Naloxone law can now be found here.

The 5.5 minute video
can be found directly at Seattle Police Department Training Video.

It is narrated by Captain Les Liggins of the Seattle Police Department, Mary Barbosa of the King County Prosecutor's Office, and Dr Charissa Fontinos of Public Health Seattle & King County

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pubmed March 2012 Update

A number of good papers this month! Most notable are the MMWR report and the intriguing Copenhagen data on opioid overdoses attended by emergency medical services.

Whelan PJ, Remski K.
J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2012 Jan;3(1):45-50.
Comment: Includes a brief review of the lower overdose risk with buprenorphine.

Carroll I, Heritier Barras AC, Dirren E, Burkhard PR, Horvath J.
Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2012 Feb 16. [Epub ahead of print] No abstract available.
Comment: The precipitating event in this case is a hypoxic event in a patient with an enzyme deficiency, not a direct opioid or benzodiazepine toxicity.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012 Feb 17;61:101-5.
Comment: Hooray! Read this for a review of U.S. nationwide naloxone program data.

Fernández P, Seoane S, Vázquez C, Tabernero MJ, Carro AM, Lorenzo RA.
J Appl Toxicol. 2012 Feb 15. doi: 10.1002/jat.2722. [Epub ahead of print]
Comment: An interesting method for identifying several drugs of abuse simoultaneously.

Fellows-Smith J.
J Opioid Manag. 2011 Nov-Dec;7(6):443-9.
Comment: The importance of this article is not reflected in the title. This is a data linkage study in Australia looking at mortality rates among those receiving methadone (0.7%) versus naltrexone (2.6%) for opioid therapy. Again this raises the major concerns about opioid overdose after naltrexone therapy, concerns that were clearly inadequately addressed prior to FDA approval of naltrexone for opioid dependence.

Liu Y, Bartlett N, Li L, Lv X, Zhang Y, Zhou W.
Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2012 Feb 8;7(1):6. [Epub ahead of print]
Comment: Incarcerated drug users would like to have naloxone.

Soravisut N, Rattanasalee P, Junkuy A, Thampitak S, Sribanditmongkol P.
J Med Assoc Thai. 2011 Dec;94(12):1540-6.
Comment: There's an error in this title - it should be opiate versus non-opiate overdose deaths. Basic epidemiology.

Nielsen K, Nielsen SL, Siersma V, Rasmussen LS.
Resuscitation. 2011 Nov;82(11):1410-3. Epub 2011 Jun 15.
Comment: Very useful review of opioid overdoses attended by emergency medical services in Copenhagen. Of 3245 cases, 69% were released at the scene without transport to the hospital, 11% had cardiac arrest at the scene, 21% were admitted to the hospital, and 10% died. These data seem pretty consistent with my current understanding of EMS attended overdoses. Nonetheless, I find these data intensely interesting because, notwithstanding many theories, we still don't really know what happens to the overdoses that occur in the community.

Rudolph SS, Jehu G, Nielsen SL, Nielsen K, Siersma V, Rasmussen LS.
Resuscitation. 2011 Nov;82(11):1414-8. Epub 2011 Jul 2.
Comment: This is a sub-analysis of the prior study. They looked at the 69% of people that were released after naloxone was given and not transported to the hospital. They found that 3 of 2241 individuals died from a suspected "rebound overdose" after naloxone was given. Put in other words, 0.1% of overdose victims who were given naloxone at the scene and then released fell back into an opioid overdose and died. The authors looked pretty deeply into the circumstances post-release, so I think these data are reliable. While this figure is impressively low, it does reaffirm the need for bystanders to stay with overdose victims for several hours after reversing an overdose.

Semaan S, Fleming P, Worrell C, Stolp H, Baack B, Miller M.
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011 Nov 1;118(2-3):100-10. Epub 2011 Apr 23.
Comment: A review of data on supervised injection facilities, which have impressive data on reducing local overdose mortality in Vancouver.

Shaw KA, Babu KM, Hack JB.
J Emerg Med. 2011 Dec;41(6):635-9. Epub 2010 Dec 9.
Comment: An unusual toxicity to opioid overdose, but one that has been previously documented. Generally neurologic in origin and reversible with removal of the offending opioid agent.