Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Executive Summary

The United States is in the throes of an opioid epidemic. Any person who uses an opioid medication may experience an intentional or unintentional overdose. An overdose is more likely to occur when an individual ingests an opioid in combination with certain classes of medications, such as benzodiazepines or nonbenzodiazepines (Z-drugs). These medications are more likely to cause sedation and respiratory depression when taken together. Veterans, due to their unique mental and physical health challenges, are more likely to experience an overdose when they receive a combination of opioid therapy with benzodiazepine or Z-drug therapy as opposed to a single prescription for either medication.

This descriptive analysis explores the efforts of pharmacists at the Lexington Veterans Affairs MedicalCenter (VAMC) to reduce concomitant prescribing rates within their institution. Their approach is modeled after another VAMC within their regional cohort that reduced its number of concomitant prescriptions drastically within one calendar year. To assess the efficacy of pharmacist-led provider education efforts, I evaluated concomitant prescribing consultations and interventions for 50 patients. The results of the analysis show a numeric reduction in the number of patients receiving both opioids and benzodiazepines or Z-drugs. The primary goal of prescribing reduction is an increase in patient safety, but the analysis also shows potential for significant cost savings.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.