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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Oct 1;155:298-301. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.08.007. Epub 2015 Aug 15.

Buprenorphine infrequently found in fatal overdose in New York City.

Author information

1
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care, and Treatment, 42-09 28th Street, Queens, NY 11101, United States. Electronic address: dpaone@health.nyc.gov.
2
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care, and Treatment, 42-09 28th Street, Queens, NY 11101, United States.
3
New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 520 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Buprenorphine is an opioid agonist medication that is both safe and effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders and the prevention of opioid overdoses. Despite this, media coverage has highlighted public concerns about the potential safety consequences of buprenorphine misuse and diversion. To address the possible contribution of buprenorphine to overdose mortality, we systematically tested post mortem blood specimens from decedents who had died of an unintentional drug overdoses in 2013.

METHODS:

We retrospectively tested consecutive drug overdose cases that occurred from June through October 2013. Cases with available blood specimens were tested for buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Toxicology results were linked to death certificates and case files from New York City Vital Statistics and New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

RESULTS:

Of the 98 unintentional drug overdose fatalities tested, only 2 (2.0%) tested positive for buprenorphine metabolites. All 98 unintentional fatalities involved multiple substances.

CONCLUSIONS:

Buprenorphine was infrequently found in drug overdose deaths in New York City. Since the safety and efficacy of buprenorphine are well documented, and overdoses resulting from buprenorphine treatment or diversion are very rare, facilitating access to buprenorphine treatment is strongly recommended.

KEYWORDS:

Buprenorphine; Overdose

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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