VA reps to discuss impact of opioid reduction on suicides during summit

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WASHINGTON, DC (WJHL) – Several Veterans Affairs representatives are expected to speak about the impact of opioid discontinuation on suicides during the National Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in April.

According to the summit’s agenda, those VA employees will discuss, among other things, Department of Veterans Affairs’ data that shows, “In two sets of fiscal years — 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 — opioid discontinuation was not associated with overdose mortality but was associated with increased suicide mortality.”

A VA spokesperson confirmed the federal agency’s involvement with the analysis and summit.

“VA will be participating in the 2018 National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, where representatives will discuss this preliminary data, which must still undergo peer review before being considered final,” Curt Cashour said.

As we reported Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs Recently released data that shows Mountain Home VA Medical Center reduced opioid prescribing by 49% between 2012 and 2017.

Chief of Staff Dr. David Hecht said Mountain Home VA continues to monitor patients for any serious side effects.

“Any time we reduce these medications, we want to do them in a safe environment whether it’s as an in-patient or close monitoring as an outpatient,” Dr. Hecht said. “Reduction of these medications can have significant side effects, so we follow them closely.”

Dr. Hecht said just under 3,900 veterans at Mountain Home were prescribed opioids at the end of 2017, which is around 10% of the total patient population.Copyright WJHL 2018. All rights reserved.

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