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Understanding Opioid Use Among Patients With Cancer


On this episode of Managed Care Cast, Tham Thi Le, PhD, MPH, lead author—then at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, now at AstraZeneca—and Linda Wastila, PhD, MSPH, senior author and the Parke-Davis Chair in Geriatric Pharmacotherapy, Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, discuss the findings of their investigation into opioid use by patients with a new cancer diagnosis and the opioid prescribing practices of their health care providers from 2007 to 2013.

On this episode of Managed Care Cast, we speak with Tham Le, PhD, MPH, and Linda Wastila, PhD, MSPH. Drs. Le and Wastila are lead and senior authors, respectively, of “Patterns of Opioid Use in Commercially Insured Patients With Cancer,” which was published in the May issue of The American Journal of Managed Care®.

They took up their investigation after finding that most previous similar studies of opioid use focused on problems with opioid use among general populations and that patients with cancer are an often overlooked population where opioid use is concerned. They sought a greater understanding of which patients with cancer are at risk for undertreatment and who is at risk for a substance use disorder. Overall, they believe that policies concerning opioid misuse need strengthening while continuing to address the genuine pain needs of patients with cancer and that they need to balance the benefits of opioid prescribing with the risks.

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