Florida Sues CVS and Walgreens Over Opioids

The state of Florida has announced it is suing Walgreens and CVS, blaming them for the local and national opioid crisis. They say the two retailers, who also happen to be the most significant two pharmacy chains in the US, helped create the crisis by “overselling painkillers” and not taking actions that would help stop the increasing illegal sales once the opioids left the pharmacy. In essence, they are being accused by the government of turning a blind eye to the opioid crisis. The lawsuit isn’t a new lawsuit, but rather an amended lawsuit filed by Attorney General Pam Bondi. The lawsuit also points fingers to Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and several opioid distributors. All of these entities, she says, profited as they willfully turned blind eyes to the addiction epidemic. In Bondi’s press release, she alleges that CVS and Walgreens "played a role in creating the opioid crisis." By failing to halt "suspicious orders of opioids," the two stores then "dispensed unreasonable quantities of opioids from…

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New Class Action Suit Lawsuit Launched on Behalf of Opioid Babies

In Philadelphia, a law firm is taking action to file a class-action lawsuit against some opioid manufacturers on behalf of babies born addicted to opioids or otherwise affected medically by their exposure to drugs in the womb. John Weston, an attorney from Sacks Weston Diamond, brought the suit Friday on behalf of an anonymous baby boy and his mother. Similar to other lawsuits filed by states, counties, and municipalities, he believes that this case is the first of its kind, at least in the state of Pennsylvania. Other states have chosen to file lawsuits sometimes, usually on behalf of babies diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Many of these babies suffer severe withdrawal effects from the lack of opioids in their system, as well as birth defects, racing heartbeats, and other medical symptoms. Most lawsuits are merely seeking monetary help from the pharmaceutical manufacturers for the treatment and study of the long-term effects. Weston admits the lawsuits are similar to others filed against opioid manufacturers and distributors in recent…

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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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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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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…

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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. 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…

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Early Marijuana Use Linked to Prescription Drug Abuse

For decades, drug authorities have described marijuana as a gateway drug that can lead to abuse of more serious drugs. Although the theory has often been ridiculed, a new study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine is lending credence to marijuana's role in prescription drug abuse. The study, which has been published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teenagers who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or marijuana are two to three times more likely to abuse prescription drugs as young adults, with the most-abused drugs being opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. According to Dr. Lynn Fiellin, Yale associate professor and lead author of the study, previous studies have focused on the link between marijuana and illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. This is one of the first studies to examine the connection between marijuana and prescription drugs. Dr. Fiellin and her team of researchers used data collected from young adults for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the years…

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