Hillary Clinton “Very Concerned” About FDA’s Approval of Oxy For Kids

While at a substance abuse forum in Boston, Massachusetts last week, Hillary Clinton explained her $10 billion plan to provide resources for confronting drug and alcohol addiction in the United States, but she also had some harsh words for the Food and Drug Administration regarding a recent decision to approve the use of hardcore opioids such as oxycodone for children as young as eleven years of age.  "I am very concerned that the FDA has approved a form of opioids for children, and I find that absolutely incomprehensible," Clinton told an audience of addiction advocates at the event.  She said the root of the problem is apparent on its surface. “The heroin epidemic is a prescription drug created epidemic,” she told the audience, explaining that many patients become addicted to prescription pain relievers, only to switch to street drugs such as heroin after their prescription for the opiate-based Oxycontin runs out. Clinton says the federal government must do a better job of regulating opiate painkillers, and as president, she would…

Continue Reading

Is OxyContin Still King?

There are growing signs around the country that the abuse of OxyContin is diminishing. The drug is being bypassed during pharmacy robberies in favor of Opana, methadone and other narcotic drugs, and some hospital emergency rooms are reporting a decrease in OxyContin overdoses. According to Forbes, the Journal of Pain and other publications, the introduction of a new tamper-resistant form of OxyContin in 2010 seems to be responsible for a decrease in abuse of the drug. Drug addicts previously crushed OxyContin pills to circumvent the drugs time-release mechanism and experience the full impact of the drug in one rush. Instead of allowing drug abusers to crush the pill for snorting or injection, the new OxyContin turns into a gummy mush when tampered with. Unfortunately, the reformulation of OxyContin does not appear to be leading to an overall drop in drug abuse. In the past decade, OxyContin became so popular as a drug of abuse in rural communities that it was nicknamed "hillbilly heroin." This nickname has unfortunately proved to…

Continue Reading

Mayor Bloomberg Limits Painkiller Use in NY Hospitals

In response to a citywide and national epidemic of prescription drug abuse, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has instituted a policy in New York City that will restrict the use of prescription painkillers in the city's public hospitals. The policy, which will affect the distribution of prescription drugs from hospital emergency rooms, could set a model for hospitals across the nation. Under Bloomberg's new policy, emergency room patients will only be given three days worth of narcotic drugs like Percocet and Vicodin. Oxycontin, which has been shown to be one of the most addictive painkillers, will not be distributed at all from 11 public emergency rooms. This is also true of methadone and Fentanyl patches. Emergency rooms also will not fill painkiller prescriptions that are reported to have been stolen, lost or destroyed. One of the goals of the new policy is to reduce the amount of drugs that end up in medicine cabinets and diverted for sale on the street. When he announced the new policy, Mayor Bloomberg said that…

Continue Reading

Older Americans and Prescription Drug Abuse

New research is sounding the alarm about prescription painkiller abuse among older Americans. The research, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP), reports that roughly 20% of Americans over age 65 take analgesic medication for chronic pain several times per week. Among that group, the rate of prescription drug abuse or addiction is 18%. There are currently 38 million adults over age 65 represent in the U.S, representing 13% of the total population. One third of all prescriptions are written for this group. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), 2.8 million seniors abuse prescription drugs. By 2020, seniors will represent 20% of the population and SAMHSA estimates that 4.4 million will abuse drugs. Many experts believe that aging Baby Boomers are more likely than their parents to turn to drugs for pain relief. Members of the World War II generation showed a tendency to be stoic about pain and to be careful about their use of drugs.…

Continue Reading

Chinese Surgeons Treat Opiate Addiction by Removing Brain’s Pleasure Center

Doctors in China are experimenting with an extreme treatment for addiction. The experimental procedure consists of destroying portions of the brain's pleasure center in an attempt to stop cravings for opiate drugs like heroin. Possible side effects including permanently disabling an addict's ability to experience the entire range of human emotions, including the capacity to feel joy. Attempts to Ban Controversial Procedure The controversial procedure was banned by the Chinese Ministry of Health in 2004, due in part to pressure from Western media related to ethical concerns. There are also suspicions that researchers have not been truthful about results of the procedure and have exaggerated the benefits in order to be published in leading medical journals. The Ministry of Health's decision was also reported to be based on the lack of long term data about effects of the procedure. The ban on the procedure was not complete, however. Some physicians have been allowed to continue their research on the use of brain surgery to treat addiction. In 2007, the…

Continue Reading

Should Doctors Focus Less on Patient Satisfaction to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse?

Far too many health care providers are more concerned with patient satisfaction than they are with protecting patients from the risk of prescription drug abuse and addiction. This attitude is enforced by current teaching in pain management, which is largely based on a concern for providing relief for patients with chronic pain. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that roughly 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Healthcare providers have long struggled with the challenges involved with the long-term treatment of pain, including the need for escalating doses as patients become tolerant to medication and the risk of addiction. Doctors and Hospitals Worry about Negative Patient Feedback According to Sherry Green, CEO of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL), education for prescribers needs to focus less on patient satisfaction and more on improvements in patient functioning. Green also points out that with physician ratings available online, some doctors feel pressured to give patients the drugs they ask for rather than risk a negative rating. Hospitals…

Continue Reading

California Lawmaker Seeks More Oversight of Prescription Drug Deaths

A California state Senator has been working diligently to introduce a bill requiring coroners to report prescription drug deaths to the Medical Board of California. Senator Curren D. Price Jr., who is also Chairman of the Medical Board of California, hopes the new bill will help to identify medical professionals whose prescribing methods may contribute to prescription drug addiction and overdose. The proposed legislation is a response to  an LA Times investigation into coroner reports. The investigation revealed that numerous deaths caused by the overuse of prescription pain medication can be linked to a handful of physicians. The Times examined 3,733 prescription drug related deaths that took place between 2006 and 2011 in the counties of Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura. It was revealed that 1,762 cases resulted from overdosing on medications that had been prescribed by doctors. A total of 71 doctors were found to have prescribed drugs to at least 3 patients who died from overdose and addiction. Five doctors had prescribed medications to 10…

Continue Reading

Ibudilast: New Medication for Prescription Drug Addiction

Addiction to prescription drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin has become a more serious problem in the U.S. than addiction to illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. The CDC reports that the number of prescription drug overdose deaths in 2011 exceeded the number of deaths from illegal drug overdoses. The magnitude of this problem is putting  increasing pressure on drug makers to find a solution for prescription drug abuse. MediciNova, a San Diego drug manufacturer, is banking on a drug called Ibudilast to help ease recovery from prescription drug addiction. The National Institutes for Drug Abuse (NIDA) is funding clinical trials to determine if the drug can safely be used as a treatment for addiction to methamphetamine and opioid prescription drugs. MediciNova reports that Ibudilast reduces the cravings that can cause relapse during drug treatment. The company is recommending that the medication be used to fight drug dependence during withdrawal and for the initial 6 to 18 months of sobriety. Since lifestyle changes are required to successfully overcome drug addiction, it…

Continue Reading

More Efforts to Prevent Prescription Meds Abuse in California

The United States is the largest consumer of prescription pain killers in the world and accounts for approximately 80% of the world's consumption of such drugs. The U.S. prescribes pain killers at a rate that would provide every American one pill for every four hours all day for three weeks. Pain pill prescriptions grew an astounding 600 percent from 1997- 2007 according to the government. Although that may be good news for the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, in may not be such good news for consumers (or their families and loved ones). Accidental overdose is now the number one cause of accidental deaths in this country, exceeding even the number of deaths in traffic accidents.   Heath Ledger's tragic and well publicized death is but one of many celebrity accidental overdoses that has garnered significant attention, but the truth is that it is happening to your family, friends and neighbors as well. A Dangerous Road of Tolerance and Addiction Our seemingly endless reliance on pain killing medication certainly provides relief.…

Continue Reading

Feds Crack Down on Illegal Online Pharmacies

Many prescription drug abusers have discovered how easy it is to use the Internet to obtain painkillers, stimulants and tranquilizers without a prescription. As part of an international crackdown on prescription drug abuse, the federal government has been taking action against online pharmacies that sell prescription drugs without requiring a prescription. In October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration participated in a global effort to combat the online sale of illegal and counterfeit drugs. The effort, which was called Operation Pangea V, led to seizure of drugs valued at more $10 million and the shutdown of more than 18,000 illegal pharmacy websites.   Feds Target Google, FedEx and UPS   The U.S. Justice Department has targeted online pharmacies since 2005. The agency's focus has recently moved beyond individual website operators to the service providers that have enabled drug sales and deliveries. In 2011, Google agreed to pay $500 million to the Justice Department to settle charges that it displayed ads for Canadian companies that sold prescriptions illegally to U.S.…

Continue Reading