A recent American study has investigated whether the US Medicare Part D’s expansion of benzodiazepine coverage in 2013 was linked to an increased incidence of fall-related injuries and overdose in patients aged 65 years and over. Researchers used claims data from 4,635,312 eligible Medicare Advantage (MA) beneficiaries and compared it with data from 940,629 commercially insured individuals. Participants were grouped in terms of age (65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80 years and older). Following policy change and inclusion of benzodiazepine coverage, the rate of fall-related injuries increased for all age groups in the MA cohort. In the comparison cohort, a statistically significant increase in fall-related injuries was only observed in the ≥80-year age group. Similarly, overdose rates increased among the MA cohort for all age groups. Results were statistically significant for those in the 65-69 age group (rate change for MA vs comparison cohort = 0.23 [95% CI: 0.17-0.30] vs 0.02 [-0.06-0.11], P < 0.001) and the ≥80-year age group (rate change for MA vs comparison cohort = 0.07 [0.00-0.14] vs -0.20 [-0.35- -0.05], P < 0.002). Overall, it was concluded that there may be an association between the expansion of Medicare for benzodiazepine coverage and the increased rates of fall-related injuries and overdose among older adults, especially among those aged 65-69 years and 80 years and above. The full text can be accessed here.

Contributed by AMSS Associate Isabella Singh