Oxy Watchdog

Keeping An Eye On OxyContin

Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

Opiate drug use in workplace nearly doubles

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 28, 2010

Use of opiate drugs in the workplace, such as OxyContin, has increased by 40 percent from 2005 to 2009 , according to data from Quest Diagnostics, a diagnostic testing company. This article in the New York Times reports that while working while under the influence can pose safety risks, many employees may be taking legal pain medications prescribed by doctors, and impairment can be difficult to prove. Last year alone, the rate of employees testing positive for prescription drugs rose by 18 percent, mirroring similar trends of rising prescription drug use in the U.S. population overall.

Read about prescription drug abuse trends in the U.S. here.

Posted in Pain Advocates, Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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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Heroin use increases in Utah, abusers younger than ever

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 21, 2010

As abuse of heroin in Utah climbs upward, authorities are finding the age of users is going down, sometimes as young as 13 or 14 years old, reports this article on ksl.com. Though OxyContin and marijuana tend to be more popular among youths, the costly price drives them to a less expensive alternative. The fact that the dealers have become extremely sophisticated – often making heroin easier to obtain than cigarettes or alcohol for teens – makes the problem more prevalent. Though the cost of heroin is cheaper for users in the Salt Lake City area, the average age of whom is 16 to 23, the cost can be far more deadly since the drug is now 60 percent pure, whereas in the 1970s it was only three percent pure.

Read about the Oxy-to-heroin trend among teens 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.

Posted in Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry, Policy & Regulation, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Percocet abuse threatens OxyContin’s hold on teen users

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 10, 2010

Though prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in the past ten years with the painkiller OxyContin as the main drug of choice, teen users may now be switching to a similar prescription opiate, Percocet. According to this article in Wicked Local Bridgewater, Massachusetts police report an increase in Percocet-related crime in the past few months. Possible reasons for the switch include a lower price-tag – Percocet sells for $30 per tablet as compared to the $80 price tag on OxyContin – as well as more availability in the wake of the state’s crackdown on OxyContin. Like Oxy, Percocet contains oxycodone, is a Schedule II narcotic, and is a highly addictive “gateway” drug which may lead to stronger street drugs such as heroin.

Read more about Massachusetts’ battle with Oxy here.

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Small community reacts to prescription drug abuse

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 6, 2010

Prescription drug abuse is climbing in the quiet Michigan community of Midland, and local authorities are not pleased. According to this article from Midland Daily News, a new report from 1016 Recovery Network shows the number of people seeking treatment for opiate addiction in the Midland area is higher than the number of people seeking help with alcoholism. The Midland Area Partnership for Drug-Free Youth, partnering with local law enforcement, has put together a television show called “Inside the Medicine Cabinet” to discuss the growing problem, reports this article from ABC News 12. Set to air Wednesday evenings throughout the month of October, the program features a panel of local addiction specialists and law enforcement discussing the trend of prescription drug use among youth.

Posted in Informational, Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Fla. doctors find few repercussions in fraudulent prescribing practices

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 3, 2010

More than a fourth of doctors in Florida found to have illegally prescribed medication are still practicing and prescribing without repercussions, reports this investigation by the St. Petersburg Times. The in-depth investigation found that the system for identifying and disciplining the doctors is slow and ineffective, doing little to curb a prescription drug abuse epidemic that kills seven Floridians per day. Though some of the doctors prescribed the drugs for illicit reasons, most were certified professionals taking advantage of the lucrative dealing. Whats more, the state’s prescription drug monitoring program that went into effect Oct. 1 leaves loopholes that do not address the trend.

Read about Florida’s prescription drug monitoring program here.
Information on pill-related overdoes in Florida can be found here.

Posted in Crime, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Australia struggles with booming Oxy abuse, doctor shopping

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 2, 2010

An investigative report in Australia this week shone a light on the country’s growing oxycodone abuse problem, one that closely mirrors the epidemic-like situation in the U.S. According this report from ABC Four Corners, there are 1.8 million new prescriptions for the opioid-based drug every year, and the majority of addiction and recreational uses stems from doctor shopping. Those trying to obtain multipal prescriptions for the drug often know the system better than the doctors themselves, and frequently take advantage of the government-subsidized health program to receive the prescriptions at a deeply discounted rate. They then sell them for enormous profits.

To watch the report, go here.

Read about the increase of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. here.

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Watchdog Reports: Panel says doctors, Internet main instigator of prescription drug abuse

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 24, 2010

Two large bottles of liquid oxycondone proved a powerful visual for the practice of over-prescribing pain medication that leads to or aids in prescription drug abuse at Wednesday’s panel presentation discussing the growing national trend, hosted by Chico State University in California.

The three-hour panel presentation was put together by Not in our Town Glenn County, managed by Jim Bettencourt and attend by 60 students, parents and community members. OxyWatchdog contributor Esmeralda F. Ramirez was there to hear what the panel had to say.

According to Bettencourt, the irresponsibility of doctors prescribing an excess of a drug is not uncommon and many physicians do not screen patients to see what is in their bodies. When a patient in pain is asking for a large amount of Vicodin, for example, the physician should ask for a simple urine test to check for existing medication in the patient’s system and prescribe the necessary amount of drugs, he said.

When patients want more than what they are prescribed, it’s a sign that they have become addicted, said Salvadore Biondolillo of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which is sponsoring this Saturday’s Take-Back Day. A classic example, he said, is a patient that has been taking hydrocodone, then switches to oxycodone, then OxyContin, and finally to heroin because it is much cheaper than prescription drugs.

A dangerous online world

If someone with an addiction cannot get enough of their prescription drug of choice from a physician, they go online, according to Biondolillo. Websites are one of the reasons prescription drug abuse has been increasing in the past few years, he said: there are sites that contain a multitude of information for many kinds of prescription drugs, and it is difficult to monitor all of them. Biondolillo refers to the Internet as “the perfect storm” because prescriptions that come from overseas are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or are often placebos, he said.

Drugs next door

Another way addicts find prescription drugs is through friends, family or street sells, Biondolillo said. When physicians prescribe a excessive amount of drugs, there are bound to be leftovers, said Lee Snook, medical director of the Metropolitan Pain Management Consultants Inc. There are a lot of cases in which the leftovers are divided and sold on the street or are given for free to friends and family as experimentation, he said.

A generation of young addicts

The best place to discuss and educate the community about the rising problem of prescription drug abuse is in colleges throughout the U.S., according to Susan Foster, vice president and director of policy, research and analysis at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). College is where young people start to experiment, she said, and prescription drug abuse on many college campuses is rampant.

One interesting sidenote: a study by CASA found that in the early 1990s, those that used prescription drugs to get high were people who had already been using illicit drugs such as cocaine or heroin, Foster said. In the early- to mid-2000s, however, the study showed that prescription drug abuse was coming from high school and college students, she said. They were experimenting with those drugs, replacing marijuana as the experimentation drug historically common among younger generations.

There are different reasons why people begin abusing illicit drugs and other substances, Foster noted. But when it comes to prescription drugs, advertising – to which young people are particularly susceptible – plays a role because it creates a mindset that everything can be cured with a pill.

“We have to change the culture of this disorder,” Foster said.

Pills as life-threatening as guns

Although the choice is always up to the individual, parents play a big role in helping their children stay away from prescription drugs, according to Snook. Prescription drugs are like guns, he said. They both kill, and they both need to be locked away from children and disposed of properly if they are not needed anymore.

Snook, for his part, tries to help people recover because he himself is a former addict and understands the hardships associated with addiction.

“I see Satan’s eyes in the person I’m trying to save,” Snook said.

By Esmeralda F. Ramirez, exclusive to OxyWatchdog

Posted in Informational, Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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