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Children are taking an overdose in an environment that fights opioid addiction

MONDAY, June 25, 2018 (HealthDay News) – Young Americans get sick, and even die, after being poisoned by a drug used to fight opioid addiction, according to a new report.

Researchers reported that between 2007 and 2016, more than 11,000 emergency calls were made to the US poison control centers. UU after a child or adolescent was exposed to buprenorphine, a powerful prescription drug that helps ward off opioids.

The vast majority of calls (86 percent) involved children under the age of 6, and almost all of those cases were the result of accidental exposure. Eleven of the children died, according to the report.

However, not all cases were purely accidental. Among people aged 13 to 19, three-quarters of the calls involved the intentional use of the drug, resulting in four deaths, the researchers said.

"Although buprenorphine is important for the treatment of opioid use disorder, pediatric exposure to this medication can lead to serious adverse outcomes," said the study's author, Dr. Gary Smith. The medication can cause extreme drowsiness and / or vomiting when taken incorrectly, he explained.

In addition, Smith suggested that the scale of the problem may be greater than the current figures suggest, given that "not all pediatric exposures are reported with buprenorphine." to poison control centers. "

The result, he said, is that" the safe storage of all opioids, including buprenorphine, is crucial. Parents and caregivers who take buprenorphine need to store it safely: up, out and out of sight "In a closed cabinet it's better."

Health care providers could help, Smith said, by proactively discussing the problem and best practices of safety protocols with parents and caregivers of young children.

And adolescents, Smith added, should be counseled about the risks involved when it comes to using drugs of this type.

Smith is a professor of pediatrics, emergency medicine and epidemiology at the Ohio State University, and director of the Injury Policy and Research Center. at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

He and his colleagues published their findings online on June 25 in the journal Pediatrics .

The increase in pediatric poisonings coincides with the opioid epidemic that surrounds the United States. Between 2001 and 2016, the number of opiate-related deaths quadrupled. By 2016, one in every 65 deaths nationwide was related to an overdose of opioids, whether from an opioid analgesic such as OxyContin or an illegal drug such as heroin.

The study authors said that between 2005 and 2010, the annual number of patients who received a buprenorphine prescription increased from 100,000 to more than 800,000.

The new study analyzed the information from 2007 to 2016 of the National Toxicological Information System.

Between visits to poison centers with young children, 45 percent ended with the child's transfer to a health care center, and about one-fifth of the calls turned out to be serious medical situations.

For adolescents, a little more than a fifth ended up admitted to a hospital, and approximately the same percentage were serious cases. About a quarter of the teens had been using substances other than buprenorphine. And 150 cases are believed to be the result of a suicide attempt, the study authors said.

In addition to safe storage and counseling, another way to reduce the risk could be to change the way buprenorphine is packaged, Smith suggested.

Drug manufacturers should use unit-dose containers, often called blister packs, for all buprenorphine products to help prevent unintentional access and exposure of young children, "he said.

That thinking was seconded by Dr. George Sam Wang, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado and a pediatric emergency physician at Children's Colorado Hospital.

"We have shown previously that unit dose packaging, a Child-resistant packaging form may decrease the pediatric exposure to buprenorphine "Naltoxone products," said Wang. He was part of a team that recently reported that switching to a single-dose container caused a 79 percent decrease in the number of involuntary exposures among children under 6 years of age.

D. Christopher Garrett is a senior media adviser to the communications office of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the United States. He said it is important to take measures to safeguard children, while emphasizing the need to continue encouraging those who struggle with opiate addiction to get the best opioid treatment available.

"SAMHSA expects all parents and guardians to act with caution to prevent their children from being able to access all medications." Proper storage and disposal of all medications are essential to avoid harmful exposure to children. " said Garrett.

"However, we continue to work with funds and training to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) that incorporates medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration such as buprenorphine," he added. "We know that MAT is the scientifically proven standard to help people who have opioid disorders recover and resume productive lives."

Garrett said anyone seeking help should contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

More information

There is more information about buprenorphine in the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. UU

SOURCES: Gary A. Smith, MD, Dr.PH., professor of pediatrics, emergency medicine and epidemiology, Ohio State University, and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; George Sam Wang, M.D., FAAP, assistant professor, pediatrics at the University of Colorado and Pediatric Emergency Physician at Children's Colorado Hospital; D. Christopher Garrett, Senior Media Advisor, Communications Office, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Washington, D.C .; June 25, 2018, Pediatrics online

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