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Keeping An Eye On OxyContin

Archive for the ‘Policy & Regulation’ Category

Fla. police, pharmacists align to curb drug abuse in state

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 25, 2010

In an effort to decrease the growing prescription drug abuse problem in Florida, county sheriff departments have reached out to pharmacists with positive results, reports this article in the Chipley Paper. After one sheriff wrote a letter last year, other departments have used it as a template requesting pharmacists to use extra precaution when filling prescriptions for highly abused painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and other narcotics. In response, some pharmacies have adopted a blanket policy in which they will not fill a prescription from out of town, while others will call the physician to verify the legitimacy of the prescription. According to the article, oxycodone was responsible for 1,948 Florida deaths in 2009 and the state has faced a number of issues with its prescription monitoring program and with doctors’ fraudulent prescribing practices.

To read about prescription drug abuse in Florida, go here.

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States move closer to sharing prescription databases, curbing doctor shopping

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 19, 2010

Beginning next year, states in the U.S. will edge closer to unifying their prescription drug monitoring programs to share information and potentially cut down on doctor shopping, reports this article from CBS Business News. Though interstate prescription database sharing has been discussed for some years, the inconsistencies among each state’s program make unifying the system challenging, according to this report from the Council of State Governments. Because prescriptions drugs are the second-most abused drugs in the nation behind marijuana, nearly every state now has an existing or pending monitoring program aimed at curbing the epidemic.

Read about the Congressional caucus that examined interstate drug abuse here.

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New drug for Oxy, heroin addiction approved by FDA

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 18, 2010

A new treatment for opioid addiction – which includes heroin and painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin – was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this week, according to this article in USA Today. Unlike existing treatments which are essentially low-dose versions of the drug, Vivitrol is a once-monthly injection that blocks the effects of opiate drugs and is non-addictive. Though Vivitrol will sell for about $1,100 per injection, the creators are developing an implant that will last for six months, reports this article in the Washington Post. The article also cites a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse which found that about 810,000 Americans are addicted to heroin and another 1.85 million to opioid painkillers such as OxyContin.

Read about the drug buprenorphine used in opioid addiction treatment here.

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Prescription Take-Back Day yields 121 tons of drugs

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 17, 2010

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency pronounced Prescription Drug Take-Back Day a success after results of the first-ever national initiative were tallied earlier this month. According to this press release from the DEA, more than 242,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at over 4,000 take-back sites across the country. Though the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act signed into law earlier this week makes returning unused prescription drugs more feasible, the DEA plans to keep Sept. 25 designated as Prescription Drug Take-Back Day until more permanent measures are in place.

Read more on the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act here.

Find more information on the DEA’s National Take-Back Day here.

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Prescription drug disposal bill signed into law

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 16, 2010

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that amends the Controlled Substances Act, reports the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America here. The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act is intended to correct a provision in the original statute that requires drugs to be registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency before they will be accepted for proper disposal. It also increases sentencing guidelines for entities that instead of properly disposing drugs returned to them, use them in illegal activities. Though the bill as approved by the U.S. House of Representatives included a provision for a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the effects of the drugs on waterways, the final version nixed that portion, reports the Association of California Waterways in this release. The bill was originally passed by the House and Senate in early August and late September respectively, on the heels of the creation of the first ever National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Sept. 25th by the DEA.

Read more about the Act, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and the effects of drugs on waterways and the Controlled Substance here.

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Congress examines interstate prescription drug abuse

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 7, 2010

In the midst of an ever-growing prescription drug abuse epidemic in the U.S., a congressional caucus met late September to examine interstate cooperation of prescription monitoring programs to better prevent doctor shopping, reports this article form Wicked Local Watertown.

Massachusetts Senator Steven Tolman testified before the caucus about the importance of sharing prescription data among states. Tolman oversees a state in which opiates like heroin and OxyContin are now the leading cause of death for young people, causing nearly 15 such deaths per week.

“Oxy hijacks your brain,” Sen. Tolman told OxyWatchdog in a July 2010 interview. “It grabs you. And it’s $80 a pill versus $4 for a bag of heroin. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and it’s in every community.”

To read more about prescription drug abuse monitoring programs, go here.
Read about Mass. struggle with OxyContin here.

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Existing take-back events demonstrate successes, failures

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 22, 2010

While the Drug Enforcement Administration may hold high hopes for its first-ever national Prescription Drug Take-Back initiative, many communities around the U.S. and the world have already experienced both successes and failures of existing programs.

In 2006, Northern California held its first and only large-scale take-back program in which more than 1,500 residents disposed of 3,634 pounds of pharmaceutical waste, according to the Report on the San Francisco Bay Area’s Safe Medicine Disposal Days, but due to expense and inconvenience it was abandoned. Meanwhile, last Saturday marked the small Massachusetts town of Abington’s second take-back event which more than tripled the efforts of the first “Clean Out the Cabinet!” campaign, reports this article at EnterpriseNews.com. The campaign was so successful, the town’s police department is planning a third event this winter.

According to this report by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, there is a great variety of ways in which cities, counties or states can participate including single-day collections, recurring annual events, or mail-back and drop-off options. Outside the U.S., Australia, Canada and eleven European nations all host similar events – with varying success – to combat the ever-increasing rate of prescription drug abuse.

Read more about the DEA’s take-back initiative in the U.S. here.

Find a collection site near you here.

Posted in Informational, Policy & Regulation, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Flushing, trashing unused prescription drugs poses environmental threat

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 21, 2010

The effects of Saturday’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day won’t just be felt by people – the environment may also reap the rewards. According to press releases from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the improper disposal of medications may have adverse effects on the ecosystem. While the Food and Drug Administration recommends flushing unused prescriptions down the toilet to prevent abuse, such practices cause contamination to the nation’s waterways.

According to this report from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, flushed drugs kill the bacteria that break down waste in sewage plants, damaging septic systems. In fact, a 2008 Associated Press investigation found pharmaceuticals in the drinking water of at least 41 million Americans in 24 major metropolitan areas, the IISG reports. According to Ecolocalizer.com, some medicines have even been associated with altering the sex characteristics of fish.

During one of the national take-back events this Saturday, once the drugs are handed in to law enforcement personnel  they will likely be incinerated at high temperatures.

Read more about the take-back initiative here.

Find a collection site near you here.

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DEA launches first-ever Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 20, 2010

In response to the nation’s growing prescription drug abuse problem, the Drug Enforcement Administration is sponsoring the first-ever National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, Sept. 25. Government, community, public health and law enforcement partners will be collecting expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction at sites across the nation from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Watch Joanne Peterson of Learn To Cope weigh in on the event here, and read more about the DEA’s campaign here.

Find a collection site near you here.

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Fla. drug monitoring program faces delay, criticism

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 16, 2010

Florida’s new prescription drug monitoring program may be put on hold due to a bid dispute despite the increasing rate of drug abuse in the state, reports this article in the St. Petersburg Times. One of the companies that lost out on the bid to create the program is now claiming the state health department’s selection process was unfair. What’s more, the program has already faced criticism over loopholes that could allow for doctor shopping. Florida is one of about 12 states in the U.S. without a prescription drug monitoring program, yet prescription drugs are now the number one cause of overdose in the state.

To read more about prescription drug monitoring programs in the U.S. from the Drug Enforcement Administration, go here.

Posted in Litigation, Policy & Regulation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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