Commentary on Lo-Ciganic et al. The importance of evidence-based clinical and policy approaches to reduce opioid harms

Hillary Samples

Publication Date: 05/01/2022

The overdose epidemic remains an urgent public health concern, with recent estimates indicating that deaths in the United States have surged to over 100 000 per year, predominantly attributed to opioids [1]. Responses to growth in opioid-involved mortality over time have emphasized opioid prescribing regulations or restrictions, including a proliferation of state laws [2] aimed at reducing harm by limiting exposure to opioids. Yet efforts to reshape medical practice are widespread, with multilevel approaches extending from federal agencies (e.g. drug labeling, prescribing guidelines) [3, 4] to individual health insurers and organizations (e.g. safety measures) [5]. Criticism of these strategies has highlighted limited evidence of their effectiveness [6] and an inability to account for differences across patients that could lead to unintended consequences. In their article, Lo-Ciganic et al. [7] use comprehensive methods to draw attention to an additional shortcoming of existing measures with narrow or unsupported definitions of high-risk opioid prescribing.