An Examination of Concurrent Opioid and Benzodiazepine Prescribing in 9 States, 2015.Am J Prev Med. 2019 11; 57(5):629-636.AJ
Concurrent prescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines is discouraged by evidence-based clinical guidelines because of the known risks of taking these medications in combination.
This study analyzed concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine prescribing in 9 states using the 2015 Prescription Behavior Surveillance System, a multistate database of de-identified prescription drug monitoring program data. Concurrent prescribing rates were examined among individuals with both an opioid and a benzodiazepine prescription. Among patients with concurrent prescribing, total days of opioid supply, daily dosage of opioids, and total days of concurrent prescriptions were examined. Analyses were stratified by whether concurrent prescribing was from a single prescriber or multiple prescribers. Opioid prescribing and concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine prescribing rates were examined by age and sex. Analyses were conducted in 2018.
Among 19,977,642 patients that were prescribed an opioid, 21.6% (4,324,092) were also prescribed a benzodiazepine, of which 54.9% (2,375,219) had concurrent prescriptions. More than half of patients with concurrent opioids and benzodiazepines received prescriptions from 2 or more distinct prescribers. Mean total opioid days, daily opioid dosage, and days of concurrent prescribing were higher among patients when multiple prescribers were involved compared with concurrent prescriptions from the same prescriber. Concurrent prescribing was more common among adults aged ≥50 years and female patients.
Public health interventions are needed to reduce concurrent prescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines. Evidence-based guidelines can help reduce concurrent prescribing when one prescriber is involved, and utilization of prescription drug monitoring programs and improved care coordination could help address concurrent prescribing when multiple prescribers are involved.