Monthly Archives: December 2010

Florida’s governor-elect draws fire over drug abuse watchdog shutdown

The governor-elect of Florida, Rick Scott, is attracting criticism for his plans to shut down the office tasked with setting the state’s drug-control policy and reducing substance abuse. Several parents who have lost children to prescription drug overdoses, including April Rovero, have posted on Scott’s Facebook page asking him to reconsider his decision to eliminate Florida’s Office of Drug Control.

To lend your thoughts to the issue, visit Rick Scott’s Facebook Page here and click on “Rick Scott + Others” to post your own thoughts.

Read more about the efforts of Rovero – who founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse after her son, Joey, died in December 2009 from a lethal combination of alcohol and misused prescription medication – here.

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Purdue execs fail to overturn disbarment ruling

A federal district judge has shot down a bid by three former top executives of Purdue Pharma to overturn an order barring them from involvement in any government-financed health care program after they pleaded guilty for fraudulently marketing OxyContin, Barry Meier of the New York Times reports.

Read Watchdog’s prior coverage of the case here.

View the original complaint in the case here.

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Leg amputation, doctors’ blind eye leads to spiraling addiction

“OxyContin In Your Words” stories are unedited accounts of OxyContin and heroin addiction. Help us break through the shame of addiction and share your own story. Confidentiality, if requested, is assured.

My husband had to have his leg amputated after our involvement in the Asian Tsunami 2004. After 6 months in hospital in Thailand he was flown back to hospital in England where the doctors put him oxycontin for the pain (had been on straight morphine in thailand). After he was discharged he was still quite weak and ill so I took charge of giving him his meds and obviously at this point, I had no concerns with giving him oxycontin, as prescribed, just wanted to make him feel better. But after awhile he started taking them when he needed them and needed more and more. Doctors put him on a higher dose and thats when I started noticing real differences in his behavior, appearence, etc. The prescription was supposed to last a month but was used up sooner and sooner. But the doctors just gave him more. I tried saying that he needed another way to deal with the pain…acupuncture, physio, massage, etc. but was met with angry harsh resistance. He’d ask if I loved him how could I let him be in pain…he only one leg, I had two, I had no idea what it was like. Riddled with guilt I backed down. It was at this time that he started hiding his pills as well…in random places all around house so I couldnt tell how many he was taking.

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Fla. legislature struggles to control prescription abuse, overdose

As Florida’s prescription pill monitoring program is delayed yet again, illegal pill mills and overdoses still plague the state. According to this editorial in, the database that was suppose to go online Dec. 1 was delayed due to legal disputes, not unlike legislation intended to impose further regulations on pain clinics, which was also delayed last week. Reasons for the delays include lawsuits filed by pain clinics and inadequate funding set aside by the state for the database. Meanwhile, this article from the Orlando Sentinel reports that oxycodone was linked to 77 fatal overdoses in Broward and 68 in Palm Beach County during the first six months of this year. TCPlam reports that there are currently more than 300 pill mills in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Find more information on Florida’s struggle to implement a prescriptions monitoring system here.

Read about lenient laws toward fraudulent prescribing practices in Florida here.

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Student raises alarm to Oxy, heroin abuse among teens

Jaime Messina was no stranger to OxyContin. Growing up in her hometown of Watertown, Mass., the prescription painkiller was everywhere: to use it to get high, all you had to do was ask around at a party, or raid your parents’ medicine cabinet. She didn’t think much of it – it was just the way things were. Even though Oxy was all around her, Jaime managed to keep her distance from the drug. But that all changed once she graduated from high school and began attending Northeastern University.

Alarmed at the number of OxyContin-related deaths in her home state, Jaime dedicated an entire semester of her sophomore year studying the issue of Oxy abuse. During that time alone, five kids from Watertown died of Oxy overdoses.

“The threat that OxyContin poses to Massachusetts is not improving or even hitting a plateau,” Jaime wrote in a paper summarizing her research, adding that the skyrocketing rates of OxyContin misuse in the state resembled the beginning stages in places where Oxy abuse had already become rampant, such as rural areas of Maine.

Jaime also noted in her paper that OxyContin’s maker, Purdue Pharma, had used “overly aggressive and misleading” marketing techniques to promote its product, directly leading to rising death rates and increases in Oxy-related crime.

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Doctors grow less wary when prescribing pain meds to teens

Prescriptions for controlled substances such as painkillers and stimulants have nearly doubled among teens due in part to pain advocates and more lax attitudes toward medicating, reports this article in US News. According to a new study in the journal Pediatrics, medications such as OxyContin and Ritalin were prescribed at 6.4 percent of doctor visits for adolescents in 1994, but rose to 11.2 percent in 2007. For older teenagers, the rate increased from 8.3 percent to 16.1 percent. The article cites sales of oxycodone as a factor driving the upward trend, with sales raising 732 percent and those of methadone by more than 1,000 percent between 1997 and 2006. Though the study did not look at the connection of increased prescribing practices to prescription drug misuse among young adults, the researchers suggest the link warrants further study.

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