Addressing Prescription Drug Addiction in Older Adults

WHEN THINKING ABOUT prescription drug addiction, one might understandably and automatically picture a young adult. Those 18 to 25 years of age “are the biggest abusers of prescription … opioid pain relievers, ADHD stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, research shows that there’s been a surge over the past decade in opioid misuse – which includes heroin as well as the powerful prescription pain narcotics like fentanyl fueling an overdose epidemic – in older adults.

In fact, between 2002 and 2014, opioid abuse nearly doubled in those 50 and older (from about 1 to 2 percent), while declining in younger age groups. And a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released in September found that, among people 65 and older, opioid-related emergency room visits were up 74 percent from 2010 to 2015 and opioid-related inpatient stays were up 34 percent. (That compares to a 17 percent decrease in non-opioid related hospital stays and ER visits.) In 2015, there were 124,300 opioid-related hospital admissions of patients 65 and up in the U.S. “So it’s a big problem,” says Dr. Arlene Bierman, director of AHRQ’s Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement, who was involved in the research and is the corresponding author on the report.

Full story at US News

People with ADHD don’t receive enough support, Finnish research suggests

The aim of the study provided by the Master of Arts (Education), Erja Sandberg, was to collect and describe the experiences of Finnish families in which the symptoms of ADHD such as attention deficit, hyperactivity and impulsiveness are strongly present. Over 200 families participated in the study sharing their experiences of the support provided by educational, social and health sectors as well as the co-operation between these different bodies.

Sandberg worries about the unequal opportunities families have in getting support from educational, social and health sectors. People who have symptoms of ADHD may have to wait for a long time before they get support.

“Families don’t have equal chances of getting the needed services on the state level even though the services are statutory. It is a coincidence if a family meets a professional who identifies the symptoms of ADHD and the need for multidisciplinary supportive services,” Sandberg says.

Full story of support for people with ADHD at Science Daily

Review of ADHD drug approvals highlights gaps between approval process, long-term safety assessment

Over the last 60 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 20 medications for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) based on clinical trials that were not designed to study their long-term efficacy and safety or to detect rare adverse events, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital report today in PLOS ONE. The study highlights gaps in how the long-term safety of drugs intended for chronic use in children is assessed as part of the FDA approval process.

“This study doesn’t address whether ADHD drugs are safe, though their safety has since been established through years of clinical experience,” says study senior author Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH, Boston Children’s chair in biomedical informatics and population health and director of the Intelligent Health Laboratory in Boston Children’s Informatics Program. “Instead, we point to the need for an agenda emphasizing improved assessment of rare adverse events and long-term safety through post-marketing trials, comparative effectiveness trials and more active FDA enforcement.”