Elizabeth Baumgartner ’15 co-authored two scientific papers that were recently published as abstracts and presented as posters at “PAINWeek 2013: The National Conference on Pain for Frontline Practitioners,” a national medical conference held on Sept. 4–7 in Las Vegas, Nev. As part of an internship this summer with Purdue Pharma LP’s Department of Risk Management and Epidemiology, Baumgartner, who is majoring in neuroscience and behavior and the Science in Society Program, participated as a member of a team of epidemiologists doing primary research on the impact of the use and abuse of prescription opioids on both patient and abuser populations.
The White House, the CDC and the FDA have identified prescription opioid abuse and opioid overdose as major public health issues. Using the MarketScan™ Commercial Database of insurance claims, the research team described opioid use patterns and risk factors for overdose, which culminated in the preparation of the two peer-reviewed publication.
In the article, “Clinical characteristics of opioid overdose cases identified in a large commercially insured population,” Baumgartner and her co-authors studied a database of nearly 100 million insured patients and identified that nearly half of the patients presenting to an Emergency Room with opioid overdose did not have a prescription for the opioid and that one of the strongest risk factors for overdose was concomitant use of another psychoactive drug and/or a co-morbid psychiatric disorder. In the article, “Duration of use of hydrocodone/acetaminophen, immediate release oxycodone, and extended release morphine in a commercially insured population,” the co-authors showed that more than 40,000 insured patients continued to use pain medicines beyond three months, a frequency 1.6-fold and 3.0-fold greater than that for extended-release oxycodone and extended-release morphine, respectively, both of which are intended for chronic use.