Monthly Archives: December 2009

Oxy to blame for jump in Canadian deaths, study finds

OxyContin is the driving force behind a five-fold increase in opiod-related deaths over the last two decades, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found.

Among the study’s key findings:

* From 1991 to 2007, annual prescriptions for opioids increased from 458 to 591 per 1000 individuals
* Opioid-related deaths doubled from 13.7 per million in 1991 to 27.2 per million in 2004
* Prescriptions of oxycodone increased by 850 percent between 1991 and 2007
* Long-acting oxycodone was associated with a 41 percent increase in overall opioid-related mortality
* The manner of death was deemed unintentional by the coroner in 54.2 percent of cases and undetermined
in 21.9 percent of cases.

Interestingly, the study also found that use of health care services in the month before death was common:
of the 3066 patients for whom data on physician visits were available, 66.4 percent had visited a physician
in the month before death; of the 1095 patients for whom individual-level prescribing data were available, 56.1 percent had filled a prescription for an opioid in the month before death.

Read Watchdog’s prior coverage of the Canadian OxyContin crisis here.

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"Oxy is a household name," says former teen addict

In this disturbing article in the Gloucester Times, one high school student and former OxyContin addict describes how he became addicted to the painkiller when he was 12. The boy is one of several students to have testified during a hearing last year organized by the Massachusetts OxyContin and Heroin Commission, which recently described OxyContin use in the state as an epidemic. The article stresses the need for more recovery high schools, which provide sober students a high school environment that is free of alcohol and drugs. In this year’s budget, new legislation requires public schools to pay a per-pupil fee for the students they send there in an effort to make the program self-sustaining, the article says.

Read more about Massachusetts’ OxyContin troubles here, here, and here.

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Ohio town battles pain pill addiction

It was standing room only at the first Prescription Drug Abuse town hall meeting in the southern Ohio town of Wheelersburg, the Community Common reports. A local drug counselor told the crowd that in 2007, there were between 100-150 people admitted to his center seeking help for opiate addiction. The agency is over 400 in terms of people who are being admitted with an opiate addiction, the article says. According to the county prosecutor, “if your zip code ranks in the top ten of the country for originating OxyContin or oxycodone prescriptions, then you have a criminal enterprise going on in your community.”

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Wash. county launches pill drop-off program

Law enforcement officials in Snohomish County, Wash. have implemented a drop-off program for unwanted and unused prescription drugs to deal with the area’s growing pain pill addiction problem, according to this article on HeraldNet.com. A similar project by Seattle-based nonprofit Group Health Cooperative yielded 30,000 pounds of unused medications in three years, the article says. Three in five teenagers report that painkillers are easy to get from their parents’ medicine cabinet, while more than half of prescription drug abusers report that they get the painkillers from family or friends, according to the article.

Other areas that have launched prescription drop-off programs include New Jersey and San Diego.

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