FDA Studies On Opioid Education Were Flawed

Studies on doctor education in the opioid epidemic were flawed, and hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. And although the FDA has lobbied heavy criticism and the pharmaceutical industry has paid fines, they are not without blame. They took years to investigate the makers and distributors of Oxycontin. Instead of protecting consumers, the federal agency instead left its own bumbling paper trail for opioid education oversight, according to a New York Times report.

The FDA, documents reveal, did little to stop overprescribing and, in fact, created a study that failed to be accurate by design, according to Caleb Alexander, the senior author of the study. “It’s unclear why the FDA didn’t insist upon a more scientifically rigorous evaluation of this safety program.” This means that it’s unclear if any studies were correct.

What Studies Were Done on the Safety

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Death Certificate Project Charges 9 CA Doctors With Opioid Overprescribing

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In California, nine doctors have been charged with overprescribing opioids along with other violations after a years-long investigation into their prescribing habits by a controversial state project. Dubbed the “Death Certificate Project,” the state scans death certificates to find people whose death was caused by prescription drugs such as opioids or benzos. The state then finds out what doctors prescribed a controlled substance to that patient within three years of death. (The doctors may not have been the current provider of prescriptions at the time of death, however.)

After implementing the highly controversial “Death Certificate Project,” California officials have charged nine doctors with overprescribing opioids. The state’s prescription drug database, CURES (California Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System), flagged the doctors for investigation alongside hundreds of their peers who were presumably cleared from trouble. In the complaints, the Project’s …

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Maryland Doctor Charged with Forging Oxycodone Prescriptions

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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 …

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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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Doctors Petition for New Prescription Painkiller Rules to Limit Abuse

In an effort to protect the public from prescription drug abuse, a group of 37 doctors and public health officials have petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change the prescription guidelines for opioid painkillers.

They have asked the FDA to change the labeling for drugs like OxyContin and Opana, prohibiting use of the drugs for treatment of moderate pain, adding a maximum daily dosage and specifying that patients should only take them for 90 days if not under treatment for cancer-related pain.

By changing the labels of these prescription drugs, the group hopes to limit promotion of the drugs for non-approved uses by drug makers like Purdue Pharma, Pfizer and Endo Health Solutions. OxyContin and Opana, which are both extended-release painkillers, are marketed by Purdue Pharma and Endo Health for the treatment of moderate pain to severe pain.…
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Doctors Call for an End to Long-Term Prescriptions for Opioid Painkillers

In response to the growing problem of prescription painkiller abuse in the U.S., three California doctors are calling on their colleagues to rethink the use of narcotic prescription drugs as medication for patients who experience chronic pain.  In the U.S., opioid painkillers including OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin are now prescribed more than any other drugs.  According to the doctors, up to 20% of patient visits to physicians result in a prescription for one of these opioid drugs.

Dr. Deborah Grady, Dr. Seth Berkowitz and Dr. Mitchell Katz have published their plea as an editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  The doctors state that 20-40% of adults report non-cancer chronic pain and that opioids have become the most common form of treatment even though few studies are available that examine the use of these drugs for the long-term treatment of …

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Increase in Doctors Facing Criminal Prosecution Related to Drug Abuse

Dr. Conrad Murray is currently facing trial for involuntary manslaughter for administering a powerful anesthetic that led to the death of Michael Jackson.  Murray is part of a growing trend of doctors who are criminally prosecuted for medical malpractice.  According to Reuters news service, fewer than 40 doctors faced criminal charges for malpractice between 1809 and 2000.  Since 2001, there have been at least 37 cases – almost as many as in the previous 200 years.

The majority of the cases since 2001 involved doctors who have overprescribed prescription painkillers and other controlled substances.  Many doctors have been charged under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which allows prosecution of physicians who knowingly prescribe medication outside the usual course of professional practice or for non-medical purposes.
Prior to the case of Dr. Murray, the most famous prosecution of a doctor …

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