WASHINGTON – A special issue of AACC’s The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine, “Laboratory Support of Pain Management,” features groundbreaking new drug tests that could reverse the staggering climb of prescription drug overdoses in the U.S.

For the first time since the early 1960s, U.S. life expectancy has dropped for a second year in a row, a decline driven by a 21% rise in drug overdose deaths. Prescription and illicit opioids continue to cause the lion’s share of these deaths, but benzodiazepine overdoses have also soared in recent years, with benzodiazepines accounting for the second highest number of prescription drug deaths after opioids in 2013. In spite of the toll that prescription drugs are taking on the nation, however, there are many scenarios in which these drugs are still the most effective treatment for pain, such as after surgery or in the case of patients with debilitating chronic pain.

Advances in laboratory drug tests will play a crucial role in helping healthcare providers to ensure access to pain medication for patients who need it without contributing to escalating rates of addiction. This special issue of The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine features research on one such advancement, a new drug testing approach that vastly improves detection of illicit benzodiazepine use among chronic pain patients. The special issue also includes research that provides technical insights on the development of laboratory drug tests and the sample types used with these tests, articles that discuss important cost considerations associated with urine drug testing, and expert perspectives on the opioid era overall.

“This special issue which focuses on the laboratory support of pain management … addresses many of the laboratory issues and challenges [in this field] and provides recommendations for clinical laboratorians, practicing pain management clinicians, policy makers, regulatory bodies, and/or health insurance companies,” wrote issue editors and drug testing experts Drs. Paul Jannetto and Loralie Langman in the preamble to the special issue. “[Experts] discuss the legalities that govern many aspects of opioid prescribing and present clinical practice strategies to inform medical providers about the tools and laboratory tests used to minimize harm to patients.”

For more about the findings in the special Pain Management issue, follow us on Twitter at @JALM_AACC

About AACC

Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, AACC brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of progressing laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit www.myadlm.org.

Launched by AACC in 2016, The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine is an international, peer-reviewed publication that showcases the applied research in clinical laboratory science that is driving innovation forward in healthcare.