THURSDAY, March 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Providing patients undergoing surgical procedures with an activated charcoal bag for opioid deactivation could increase appropriate opioid disposal, according to a research letter published online March 27 in JAMA Surgery.

Chad M. Brummett, M.D., from Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving 396 opioid-naive patients undergoing an outpatient surgical procedure. Participants were randomly assigned to receive usual care, an educational pamphlet with detailed instructions for locating Drug Enforcement Administration-registered disposal locations, or an activated charcoal bag for opioid deactivation. A total of 208 participants were included in the primary analysis.

The researchers found that 28.6, 33.3, and 57.1 percent of patients receiving usual care, an educational pamphlet, and a charcoal activated bag, respectively, reported disposing opioids. The odds of opioid disposal were 3.8 times higher for patients who received a charcoal bag versus those receiving usual care after adjustment for preoperative patient characteristics. Compared with participants in the other groups, those who received a charcoal bag reported less medication flushing or inappropriate garbage disposal and were significantly less likely to leave the home for disposal.

“Our findings suggest that simple, low-cost interventions (US $2.59 to $6.99/bag), such as in-home deactivation methods, could reduce the number of unused opioids available for diversion,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry and holds a patent for Peripheral Perineural Dexmedetomidine; a second author disclosed ties to the medical technology industry.

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