Oxy Watchdog

Keeping An Eye On OxyContin

Posts Tagged ‘narcotics’

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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New brand of prescription painkiller oxycodone approved

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on October 23, 2010

A new form of oxycodone hydrochloride, a synthetic opiate like the brand name drug OxyContin, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week, reports this release from the FDA. Lehigh Valley Technologies formulated the brand-name Oxycodone HCI as a morphine-derived painkiller to rival Purdue Pharma’s best-selling brand OxyContin. Purdue has tried to limit production of time-release and generic brands of oxycodone and has been embroiled in several lawsuits to maintain control of its $3 billion-per-year drug. According to its website, Lehigh Valley has developed its own version of abuse-deterrent drugs. In 2009, Lehigh Valley received a warning from the FDA for marketing an unapproved version of morphine, as detailed in this letter from the FDA. Like the brand-name OxyContin, Oxycodone HCI is a Schedule II narcotic and highly prone to addiction.

Read more about Purdue’s suppression of generic forms of oxycodone here.

Posted in Pharmaceutical Industry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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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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 »

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 »

Ind. opiate abuse increasing faster than national average

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on August 29, 2010

According to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal overdoses of opiates – including OxyContin – outnumber those caused by other drugs. In Indiana, the Journal Gazette reports that compared to the national average, the abuse of prescription drugs is climbing higher faster than that of illegal drugs. In 2008, the use of OxyContin alone had increased by a whopping 712 percent in the state. One major cause for the change, according to the paper: unlike “street drugs” such as cocaine and marijuana which are smuggled in from other countries, prescription narcotics are readily available at local pharmacies. The abuse is also being fueled by the perception that because drugs like Oxy are prescription medicines and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they are safer than illegal drugs, the paper says.

To read about the national trend of increased prescription drug abuse, go here.

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

Canada cracks down on highest narcotic usage in the world

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on August 28, 2010

Facing the highest per capita usage of narcotics in the world, and double the rate of abuse than the rest of the country, the province of Ontario, Canada is implementing a prescription drug monitoring program similar to those already in place in the U.S. Ontario has seen the use of prescription oxycodone increase 900 percent since 1991, claiming more deaths than HIV each year, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal late last year, the death toll has increased dramatically since the new slow-release version of OxyContin hit the market—supposedly a version less prone to abuse.

To read more about the new version of slow-release OxyContin, go here.

Find out more about prescription drug monitoring programs in the U.S. here.

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

 
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