Oxy Watchdog

Keeping An Eye On OxyContin

Posts Tagged ‘hydrocodone’

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.

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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.

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

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.

Posted in Policy & Regulation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Watchdog Editorial: Don’t forget the ‘dorm rats’

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 4, 2010

The latest issue of Time Magazine has an alarming article on the “national epidemic of pill popping and accidental overdosing.” The article details how the medical community’s increased focus on acute and chronic pain, combined with Big Pharma’s bounty of powerful painkillers like OxyContin, has led to a tenfold increase in prescriptions for opioids in the U.S. since 1990. And “most experts agree that nothing but the exploding availability of opioids could be behind the exploding rate of death,” the article says.

According to the article, the people most affected by opiate abuse are mostly baby boomers – “so-called naive users in the 35-to-64 age group” who are often given 30-day prescriptions for OxyContin, “and it’s like a little opioid starter kit.” The article states that “contrary to stereotype, the people most at risk in this epidemic are not the usual pill-popping suspects – the dorm rats and users of street drugs.”

This may be the case statistically, but it’s not the whole picture. On a recent visit to Massachusetts, Watchdog met with family after family who have lost young kids – most of them under 25 – to Oxy and heroin addiction. Without exception, the kids got started on Oxy in high school and eventually moved on to heroin as they were priced out of their opiate addiction. Watchdog left with a pile of obituaries and mass cards for these kids half a foot high. Watchdog’s take: opiate addiction has many faces, but it’s crucial to focus on how this phenomenon is affecting the younger generation, even if the statistics claim the trend is focused elsewhere.

Quoted in the article is Joanne Peterson, founder of Learn To Cope, a support group for parents and family members dealing with a loved one addicted to heroin, OxyContin and other drugs. Peterson, who has attended 18 funerals of young kids who died of Oxy and heroin since December, tells OxyWatchdog the opiate abuse trend is leading to the loss of a generation of kids, and uses a much stronger word than “epidemic” to describe what she’s seeing on the ground.

“It’s comparable to a genocide,” says Peterson. “It’s killing so many people.”

Peterson – who said L2C’s weekly support meetings have become so heavily attended that they are often standing-room only – also expresses frustration with OxyContin’s maker, Purdue Pharma, for not doing enough to address the addiction problems its drug is creating. (In 2007, the company and three of its top executives forked over a $634.5 million fine to settle charges that they misled doctors and the public about the drug’s dangers.)

“I don’t understand how our country can allow a pharmaceutical company and its executives, who are convicted felons who pleaded guilty to mismarketing, to go on doing business in this country,” she says.

Read Time Magazine’s previous coverage of pill abuse here.

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

Seattle hospitals ban use of OxyContin

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 1, 2010

Two emergency rooms in Seattle, Wash. will no longer prescribe Schedule II narcotics – including OxyContin – to treat pain. Swedish Hospital Cherry Hill’s ER Director Russell Carlisle, Ph.d., told KUOW News that the ban is a form of “tough love” to prevent patients from becoming hooked on the highly addictive pain medications, and also a way to curb existing abuse. Instead, doctors will be prescribing non–narcotic, non-addictive pain medication like acetaminophen or less addictive Schedule III drugs such as codeine. Though Schedule II drugs still have their place in pain treatment, Carlisle says the need for OxyContin and hydrocodone are debatable in an emergency room.

Posted in Policy & Regulation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Calif. doctor linked to six-plus deaths involving OxyContin

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on August 30, 2010

State officials in California are pressing to revoke the license of a doctor linked to several fatalities due to overdoses of prescription narcotics including OxyContin, hydrocodone and Xanax. An article in The Los Angeles Times reports that at least six men have died of overdoses after visiting general practitioner Lisa Tseng, some of whom were known addicts. According to the Associated Press, in addition to misconduct charges from the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, Tseng faces an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration into her prescribing practices.

Read the DEA’s press release on the issue here.

*Update: Tseng is now claiming that the responsibility for any misuse of the drugs belongs to the users, despite allegations by DEA officials that she routinely prescribed Oxy and other powerful painkillers without properly assessing patients’ medical needs – or their apparent addictions, the LA Times reports.

Posted in Crime | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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