Monthly Archives: February 2011

Teen pill abuse revealed, no holds barred, in CA town

In many communities, feelings of shame and outright denial prevent people from talking openly about the reality of prescription drug abuse – but some are breaking free of that mold.

Take the San Francisco suburb of Dublin, Calif., where a very real conversation on the subject of pill abuse happened when the police department held a community forum today on teens and prescription drugs, particularly OxyContin. Officer Eric Chaloner of the special investigations unit said it’s been tough to get some cops to realize that pills are just as dangerous as hard drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine – even though they’re constantly finding them in the cars of kids they pull over for driving offenses. The typical Oxy abuser profile, he said: a white, affluent, 16-to-23-year old individual whose car has multiple dents and burn marks on the interior upholstery and with stacks of lighters and pen tubes in the console, and perhaps most frighteningly, “whose family and friends are aware of their addiction, but oblivious to the severity of the problem.”

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U.S. government shutdown could halt DEA’s efforts

As the March 4 deadline to pass a national spending bill looms, the U.S. is facing the very real possibility of a government shutdown, which would affect federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency. According to this report from National Public Radio, funding cuts would include initiatives such as “buy money,” which the DEA uses to purchase contraband in undercover operations to catch OxyContin and heroin dealers. Despite the fact that prescription drug abuse causes more American deaths per year than terrorism – or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined – in the event of a shutdown, the government will continue funding border patrol and the Department of Homeland Security.

Read about U.S. causalities in Operation Iraqi Freedom here.
Read about U.S. deaths from drug overdoes here.

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Purdue donates big bucks to find pharmacy robbers

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has fronted $2,500 to help solve a pharmacy robbery in Phoenix, Ariz., under its program RxPATROL, according to this article from Phoenix News Times. Three bandits made off with 62,000 Oxy pills, worth $175,000 on the street, in late January. Such cases are a reminder that while drug store robberies are an increasing epidemic, they’re also an opportunity for good PR.

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To curb drug abuse, Ohio teams with OxyContin maker

Ohio’s prescription drug abuse problem is spiraling out of control, and national organizations such as the Drug Enforcement Agency are offering insufficient report – leading lawmakers to find other ways to combat the epidemic, according to this article in Their main partner? The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, a nonprofit organization funded by Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. Anyone else see the conflict here?

Read about Purdue’s federal involvement in combating drug abuse here.

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Painkiller abuse treatment rises sharply during poor economy

The weak U.S. economy has driven many to drug abuse and subsequent rehabilitation, according to one rehab center in Calif., reports this release. According to its records, the center noticed a sharp increase in the number of people seeking treatment at the onset of the economic downturn in 2007, followed by a leveling-off in 2010, possibly due to recent stabilization in the economy. The center noted that OxyContin and Xanax were the most commonly abused drugs during this time period.

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Purdue releases opioid skin patch to treat pain

Just what we need: the inventors of OxyContin have devised a new way for people to take opioid painkillers. Last month, Purdue Pharma introduced the continual-release skin patch Butrans, according to this release. The active ingredient in the patch, buprenorphine, is commonly used to wean addicts off other opioid painkillers and can also be addictive.

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Oxy abuse hits the big screen in film’s true-life portrayal

You may remember Watchdog contributor Jaime Messina, who blew the whistle on OxyContin way back in 2003 as a student at Northeastern University – a full four years before Purdue shelled out $634.5 million for lying about the painkiller’s addictive qualities. Here, she weighs in on “OxyMorons,” a new film about Oxy’s devastating effects in the Boston area.

Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to view the film “OxyMorons,” a low-budget indie film that portrays the life of an OxyContin dealer in the small community of Charlestown, Mass. The film – which is written by, starring and about Johnny Hickey – takes place in the early 2000s, when the Oxy addiction epidemic in Massachusetts was first starting to rear its head. Hickey, who has since cleaned up his life, was able to write an excellent screenplay based on his experiences. As someone who has been aware of and has personally seen the devastation OxyContin can cause, I was excited to hear that such a film was produced, and I highly anticipated its limited release at a theater in Revere, Mass., just north of the town in which it takes place.

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Teens get involved in prescription abuse prevention

With prescription drug use skyrocketing among teens in the U.S., many groups are baffled when it comes to prevention techniques. But according to this article from, the Connecticut-based Community Coalition for Children has developed a novel concept: ask the teens for advice. As it turns out, they can offer valuable insight into the epidemic.

Read more about teen prescription drug abuse here.

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Doctors’ guesswork leads to over-prescribing of painkillers

This should come as no surprise; a new study in the Journal of Urology finds that too many painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin are prescribed after surgeries, reports this article from Reuters. Focusing on patients who underwent urological surgery, the study found that two-thirds had leftover drugs they stored in their medicine cabinet – the prime marketplace for teenage abusers. The article reports that most doctors make an educated guess as to how many pills to prescribe during recovery, leaning on the side of cautious excess.

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Pills often more deadly than war for U.S. troops

More sad news about prescription drug addiction among U.S. soldiers: even if they survive war, they often don’t survive the dangers of potent painkillers like OxyContin, according to this article in the New York Times. The military’s medical system is awash in prescription drugs, leading to a rising tide of drug dependency, suicide and fatal accidents, the article says. Prescription drugs were involved in one-third of the record 162 suicides by active-duty soldiers in 2009, and an additional 101 soldiers died accidentally from the toxic mixing of pills from 2006 to 2009, according to the article.

Read more about prescription addiction among American troops here.

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