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 …

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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.…

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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. …

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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. …

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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…
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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 …

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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…
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Maine Doctors Requesting Drug Tests before Writing Prescriptions

Doctors in the state of Maine have begun to ask patients to submit to random drug tests in exchange for prescriptions for controlled drugs. The tests help doctors determine if patients are taking their prescription drugs or selling them on the black market. Drug tests also allow doctors to determine if patients are taking other drugs. Patients who refuse drug tests could be refused prescriptions.
The Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine recommends that physicians enter into contract agreements that include random drug tests with patients who receive multiple new prescriptions or renewals for controlled drugs. According to Gordon Smith, vice president of the Maine Medical Association, a prescription drug contract between doctor and patient and random drug testing for patients will encourage more conversations about the potential for addiction.

Maine – Surprisingly Vulnerable to Opiate Addiction

Random drug …

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OxyContin Without Safety Features could Return to Pharmacies

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A national organization that fights prescription drug abuse is sounding the alarm about the possibility of pain pills without safety features being released to pharmacies across the nation. The nonprofit Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD) is urging the FDA to prevent the return of crushable versions of OxyContin and Opana.

Under government pressure, the makers of these powerful opioid drugs reformulated their products to prevent abuse. The new versions of the drugs are resistant to crushing, making it impossible to smoke, snort or inject the drugs in order to circumvent their time-release formula. Studies have shown that prescription drug abusers and dealers are less interested in the new versions of the drugs because of their tamper-resistant features.

The Generics Might Not Be Safeguarded

Despite evidence that reformulation of painkillers has reduced abuse, several drug companies have requested …

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Southern California’s Deadly Prescribers

Drug overdoses from potent painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin and other prescription drugs now cause more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. According to the Los Angeles Times, law enforcement officials have not focused enough on the fact that many people overdose on drugs that they obtained with a doctor’s prescription as opposed to drugs obtained on the black market.
The Times bases this claim on an analysis of coroners’ records for 3,733 prescription drugs deaths in Southern California between 2006 and 2011. The analysis found that for nearly 50% of these cases, a drug that was prescribed to the deceased either contributed to or was the sole cause of the overdose.

Coroners’ records show that 71 doctors in Southern California had more than two patients who died from prescription drug overdose. These doctors were mostly pain specialists, psychiatrists …

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