Oxy Watchdog

Keeping An Eye On OxyContin

Posts Tagged ‘statistics’

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 »

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 »

Take-back day may have little effect on pill hoarding, addiction

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 25, 2010

The increased attention paid on prescription drug abuse combined with the possibility of doctors becoming more hesitant to prescribe certain pain medications may cause hoarding of unused pills rather than their return at events such as today’s national Prescritpion Drug Take-Back initiative, according to this blog posted by Time Magazine’s Healthland. Unlike the handgun buyback program, which offers money for returned firearms, the drug take-back offers little incentive for those who might be saving their painkillers such as OxyContin for an emergency or future use. What’s more, the blog cites two studies that show the majority of people who abuse painkillers did not become addicted during pain treatment and the majority of those admitted into rehab for prescription drug abuse had previously been treated for addiction.

To read more about today’s take-back program, go 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 »

Wash. restricts addictive painkillers, pain advocates worry

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on September 13, 2010

In reaction to new statistics on prescription drug abuse, Washington pushed through unique legislation that limits the amount of opiates patients can be prescribed before consulting with a pain specialist, but now the medical community and pain advocates are voicing their concerns. According to this article in the Seattle Times, state guidelines adopted in 2007 attempting to curb prescription abuse haven’t worked, necessitating more stringent regulations. Though the state has the seventh-highest death rate involving prescription opiates, some doctors and advocates argue that doctors leery of losing their license will withhold drugs from those in need.

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

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 »

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.

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Pill-related overdoses skyrocket in Fla.

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on July 8, 2010

Prescription drug-related deaths in Florida spiked by 20 percent in Florida last year over 2008, according to a new report released by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, the Epoch Times reports. Prescription drugs contributed to more than 8,600 deaths in Florida in 2009, up from 6,200 reported in 2008, the article says. The four leading deadly substances were heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and fentanyl, and the leading cause of death continues to be heroin which contributed to 85% of drug fatalities, according to the article.

Posted in Surveys & Statistics, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Oxy-to-heroin trend hits Chicago hard

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on June 29, 2010

More people visit hospital emergency rooms in Chicago and its suburbs with problems related to heroin than in any other major metropolitan area in the U.S., a trend that is being driven in part by teens who are hooked on OxyContin, this article reports, citing a recent study by researchers at Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy.

Read the full report here.

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Oxy-related ER visits up 152%

Posted by Oxy Watchdog on June 21, 2010

U.S. emergency department visits for the non-medical use of opioid painkillers increased 111 percent in 2008 compared to 2004, jumping to 306,000 in 2008 from 144,600 in 2004, according to this article. OxyContin was the second-most misused drug, with ER visits related to its abuse increasing 152 percent, the article says.

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