Maryland Doctor Charged with Forging Oxycodone Prescriptions

A doctor in Montgomery County, Maryland is charged with writing hundreds of prescriptions for oxycodone (the generic version of Oxycontin) for a patient that doesn’t exist. The total amount of pills he prescribed totaled 11,000. Doctor Brandt E. Rice, 50, took the prescriptions to the pharmacy himself. The orders were for a patient Named Aaron Rice, who the police relentlessly attempted to find to no avail. Police say that last December, Doctor Rice, 50, went to a Rite-Aid store with his driver’s license, DEA card and a prescription for Oxycodone in Rice’s name. He also handed the pharmacist with a prepared letter explaining his patient was homebound and suffering from prostate cancer, and the patient has been battling cancer for a decade. The pharmacist at the Rite-Aid grew suspicious of Dr. Rice's claims and told the doctor she needed to verify a few things before completing the order. After an investigation, she contacted Montgomery County Police, resulting in a months-long investigation into Dr. Rice and his prescription writing habits.…

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Making Oxycontin Harder to Abuse Led to Heroin OD’s

Have you ever wondered how heroin became such a prominent drug in the past few years? In 2010, Purdue Pharma, the makers of Oxycontin, were under a lot of pressure from various stakeholders. The popular drug, used for anything from pain for an acute injury to long-term chronic pain like cancer, had proven more addictive than they anticipated. By the 2000’s, it was clear that something had gone awry. People were crushing pills and snorting or shooting them up. So they decided to make Oxycontin more difficult to abuse by reformulating the medicine. By making the pills difficult to crush and more extended-release, people wouldn’t be able to abuse them. While this was a logical step to take, especially from the drug manufacturer’s perspective, the damage had already been done for many people. Thousands were already misusing the pill, and most of them were already exhibiting signs of a substance abuse disorder. Changing the way that the pills worked resulted in painful withdrawal and most likely even overdoses as…

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Prosecutors Says Insys Bribed 5 NYC Doctors to Prescribe Fentanyl

Five New York City doctors allegedly took at least $800,000 from Insys Therapeutics Inc., to prescribe the spray version of fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid that has been known to cause overdose deaths across the country. According to a 75-page indictment that the Manhattan federal court released on Friday, all the defendants pleaded not-guilty to the charges, which included conspiracy to describe the efforts to overprescribe the medication. The doctors had been “working” for the company's 'Speakers Bureau' for four years starting back in 2012. However, their positions were a way to hide the fact that the “speech” part of the job description was a farce. According to the New York Times, Insys paid more than $100,000 annually to at least two of the doctors. The indictment also says that Insys funneled the illegal payments to the doctors through a sham “speakers bureau.” As members of the bureau, doctors were paid for giving educational presentations. The events were sparsely-attended, and usually by doctors who were well-versed in the main…

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College is a High Risk Time & Place for Mental Health & Addiction (Infographic)

The connection between addiction and behavioral & mood disorders like anxiety, depression and PTSD is well established.  More and more, government organizations like the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) are releasing findings that support a strong connection between mental health disorders and chemical dependency. If someone is already 'at-risk' due to mental health challenges the college experience might be particularly risky for them to unwittingly stoke the fire of a latent addiction.  The co-occurring conditions feed into each other in this environment as the student is often experiencing new surroundings, new activities, and new stressors. College Age Drug Abuse & Mental Health Infographic We wanted to share this infographic about drug abuse and mental health in college aged students to bring more awareness to this phenomenon.  The stress and change in environment experienced in college can stoke the fire of addiction that binge drinking and recreational drug use have lit.   The social and educational pressures that students face…

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Is Kratom an Opioid? The FDA Says Yes

The Food and Drug Administration put out new warnings about kratom, saying that the drug is best classified as a substance with “opioid properties” and linking it to 44 deaths. Previously, the DEA took steps to outlaw the drug altogether but halted their actions as Kratom advocates led campaigns against the agency involving petitions and phone calls. Kratom has become popular among people with opioid use disorder trying to get clean from heroin and other potent, addictive drugs. People with chronic pain, depression, and a myriad of other diseases. Often, sellers of Kratom market the drug in capsule, powder, and tea form. People claim it helps ease the symptoms of a wealth of diseases. While these benefits sound great, there are many people in the addiction community that believe that replacing opioids with Kratom is a dangerous and unsustainable practice. For years, people in Southeast Asia similarly used Kratom – as a substitute for opioid drugs and to ward off symptoms of opiate withdrawal. However, once a person has…

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Rural Opioid Epidemic Leads to Use of Telemedicine

According to a recent survey of rural farming and ranch families, nearly 45% of rural families say they have been affected by opioid addiction. When it comes to farmworkers that number goes up to 75%. Farmers agree that people can quickly get ahold of opioids, but treatment options are few and far between. There is a lot of frustration and grief in these rural communities—few people know where to turn for themselves or a loved one, and not all of them even have access to insurance that would help them get access to treatment programs. Created and funded by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, the October 2017 poll also helped resolve some of the problems people have had when seeking help for loved ones. The answers and skepticism from the local communities have helped create a broader conversation on the importance of decreasing the stigma of addiction in farming communities. People need to get help when they ask for it. So many levels of government…

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“Enormous” Fentanyl Ring Uncovered in Utah

Fentanyl, a dangerous narcotic that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, has become a drug that is central the opiate epidemic in many hard-hit areas. For many people, fentanyl is a drug that’s unfamiliar, and many drug users e are unaware of its potency or the added potential for overdose. Fentanyl pills are nearly identical to Oxycontin in size and shape and often have been sold masquerading as oxy on the street. A recent fentanyl ring uncovered in Utah sheds light on how and where these pills are manufactured and how they are distributed. Federal agents uncovered a fentanyl ring (allegedly) being run by a young man who is a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, local news station KSL reported. Prosecutors are looking into the possibility that at least 28 deaths are tied to the ring he ran from his basement. The ring, run online from the “dark web”, is once raked in $2.8 million in less than a year. Usually, in these…

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In 48 States, Walgreens Sells Narcan Over the Counter

Walgreens will soon sell lifesaving antidote, over-the-counter Narcan, that counteracts the deadly effects of opioid overdoses including heroin, they announced last week. Narcan over the counter will allow both family members and drug users to have the antidote safely nearby in case of an overdose. Opioid-related overdoses currently kill more than 140 Americans every day, and they have only been getting deadlier as powerful drugs such as fentanyl and carfentanil (an elephant tranquilizer), deadly to even some of the most experienced drug users, have hit the streets in the US. Narcan, which comes both as an injection and a nasal spray, can “pull back” drug users from the brink of death. Only the nose spray, however, has been made available for over-the-counter Narcan purchases. While many states have their own laws regarding naloxone, Walgreens has taken months to hammer out the agreement in 48 states, which will doubtlessly save lives in those states. Walgreens has more than 8,000 pharmacies that will carry this lifesaving antidote. CVS, which is considered to…

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Opioid Commission Holds First Meeting

On Friday June 16, 2017 the newly formed Opioid Commission held their first meeting in the White House. It was attended by some of the more influential players from within Donald Trumps’s circle. Most notably at the helm of the meeting was Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey who is the chairman of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.  Notable Attendees: Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services David Shulkin, Secretary of Veteran Affairs Kellyanne Conway, Trump Adviser  Jared Kushner, Senior Trump Adviser  Charlie Baker, Governor of Massachusetts Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina Patrick Kennedy, former congressman Dr. Bertha Madras,  Harvard Medical Professional Given the list of names and considering the seriousness of the problem United States is facing with the opioid crisis it appears that this administration is ramping up its efforts in fighting, treating and preventing addiction in the USA.   However, many addiction recovery specialist are skeptical. Time will tell how effective this commission is in tackling the opioid epidemic. This was only…

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Doctors Seeing Increased Scrutiny and Punishment for Reckless Opiate Prescribing

We always are paying attention to the critical juncture of the opiate epidemic that occurs when a patient is given a prescription to "legally" obtain the addictive and potentially deadly drugs. Increasingly, physicians assistants are getting ensnared in the corrupt prescribing of narcotic drugs, and this is somewhat expected considering their access to granting the drugs combined with the incredible sums that illicit prescribing can generate. The doctors themselves are the ones that we feel particular disdain for, because they have so much more training and have taken the hippocratic oath not to harm their patiens. We’ve written about Lisa Tseng getting arrested right at her office located in a Rowland Heights strip mall in Los Angeles and felt that it was a significant "shot fired" against one of the most guilty perpetrators of the opiate addiction and overdose crisis: the greedy MDs who prescribe addicted men and women unbelievable quantities of opiate drugs. Just a few days ago, in the middle class Long Island neighborhood of Baldwin, Dr. Anand Persaud…

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