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Sedative Prescriptions Are Common at Opioid Initiation: An Observational Study in the Veterans Health Administration.
Mosher HJ, Richardson KK, Lund BC. Sedative Prescriptions Are Common at Opioid Initiation: An Observational Study in the Veterans Health Administration. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.). 2018 Apr 1; 19(4):788-792.
Concurrent use of sedatives, especially anxiolytics, and opioids is associated with increased risk of medication-related harms. To the extent that multiple prescribers are involved, approaches to influence patterns of coprescribing will differ from those to influence prescribing within a single drug class.
Describe the proportion of new opioid recipients with concurrent sedative medications at opioid initiation and determine whether these medications were prescribed by the same prescriber.
We used national Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient pharmacy administration data to identify veterans who received a new opioid prescription between October 20, 2010, and September 1, 2011 (FY 2011), preceded by a 365-day opioid-free period. Concurrent sedative use was defined as a skeletal muscle relaxant, benzodiazepine, atypical antipsychotic, or hypnotic filled on the opioid start date or before and after the opioid start date with a gap of less than twice the day supply of the prior fill.
Concurrent sedative use at opioid initiation was 21.4% (112,408/526,499) in FY 2011. The proportion of concurrent recipients who received at least one concurrent sedative prescribed by a provider other than the opioid prescriber was 61.4% (69,002/112,408). The proportion of recipients who received a sedative concurrent with opioid initiation from the same prescriber varied across sedative class. Benzodiazepines and opioids were prescribed by the same provider in 41.1% (15,520/37,750) of concurrent users.
One in five patients newly prescribed opioids also had a sedative prescription. Less than half of patients with concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions received these from the same provider. Efforts to reduce concurrent opioid and sedative prescribing will require addressing care coordination.