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Increased risk of death by suicide or overdose in patients stopping opioid medications
  1. Mridula P Talari,
  2. Pradeep Yarra
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pradeep Yarra, Internal Medicine, University of Kentucky, KY 40506, USA; pya227{at}uky.edu

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Commentary on: Oliva EM, Bowe T, Manhapra A, et al. Associations between stopping prescriptions for opioids, length of opioid treatment, and overdose or suicide deaths in US veterans: observational evaluation. BMJ 2020;368:m283. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m283.

Implications for practice and research

  • Patients who discontinued or started treatment with opioids need closer monitoring due to their increased risk of death due to suicide or overdose, highest in the first 3 months.

  • Future research is needed to better understand the causes of increased risk of death due to suicide or overdose in patients who discontinued or started treatment with opioids.

Context

The opioid epidemic in the USA resulted in a record high of 50 042 overdose deaths in 2019.1 Two out of three of these overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids.2 There has been a major momentum across the health systems in the USA for opioid stewardship and that includes discontinuing opioid medications for patients who are …

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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